Liz Cheney

No, the other Liz Cheney

Barbecue Broccoli and Tofu

So…obviously I haven’t been keeping to my one-recipe-per week goal. But I have two coming for you this week.

This one was borne out of desperation (meaning, what we had in our fridge after a busy week).

Ingredients:

  • Half an onion, diced
  • One tablespoon garlic paste or one clove garlic
  • One twelve-ounce package of firm or extra firm tofu
  • Eight ounces of broccoli
  • As much barbecue sauce as strikes your fancy (we used Stubb’s Spicy Bar-B-Q Sauce, but anything works)
  • Salt and pepper to taste

If you haven’t cooked with tofu before, you’ll need to remove the tofu from its packaging and drain by stacking several plates on top of it. After twenty minutes or so, pour off the water and you’re ready to go.

Heat a couple tablespoons of oil in a big pan or wok, then add the garlic and onion and sauté until the onion is translucent. While you’re waiting, dice the tofu into small cubes (the size is up to you, but I find it browns better when the cubes are smaller). Give the tofu time to brown by stirring once every few minutes. This should take around fifteen minutes.

Once the tofu is mostly brown and almost crispy to your liking, add the broccoli to the pan along with a little more oil if necessary. I tend to leave this for the last few minutes because I like my broccoli crisp. Finally, when the broccoli is almost cooked to your taste, lightly coat the stir-fry in barbecue sauce and allow it to simmer and absorb the flavor.

I liked this recipe as is, but my fiancé added some more sauce on top. It turned out pretty well, although I think I would’ve preferred a less spicy barbecue sauce. As is, it was pretty filling and relatively healthy (but so much for getting away from stir-frys).

Cottage Cheese and Apple Pancakes

This recipe, you guys. You guys. This recipe. I realize that these pancakes aren’t picture-perfect, judging by my amazing visuals, but this was our first time making them from scratch. And the taste more than makes up for the lack of perfectly symetrical pancakes.

You can find the full description in Mollie Katzen’s The New Moosewood Cookbook, but here’s pretty much what we did…

Ingredients:

  • One large green apple, shredded
  • One cup cottage cheese
  • 3/4 cup flour
  • Four eggs
  • Tablespoon honey
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • Squirt of lemon juice
  • More butter than I want to admit

Grate the apple until you have one cup (packed)…or, if you’re like me, until it’s almost full and your hand is ready to fall off. With your eggs, separate the egg whites from the yolks and beat the egg whites until they’re stiff (might take a few minutes). Then, combine all the ingredients except for the egg whites and the butter into a large bowl. Mix well. Fold in the egg whites and butter up your pan.

We tried doing medium-sized pancakes by plopping two or three tablespoons of batter into the hot pan. It took a few minutes to cook each side, and we had to add an embarrassing amount of butter as we went along.

You could use cooking spray, I guess, but YOLO.

It took a little longer than I would have liked, especially when we tried the first set of pancakes and promptly devoured them. But all in all this was a quick, easy meal. And so good! The grated apple wasn’t too evident - might want to add more next time - but the tangy-ness of the cottage cheese was perfect. The pancakes were nice and light, too, and pretty tasty topped with Greek yogurt. I think we have a new staple for weekend breakfasts. :)

Farfalle With Veggie Sausage and Cherry Tomatoes

All right, I lied. I was going to hold out for the weekend and make cottage cheese and apple pancakes but I wound up trying something new tonight.

Ingredients:

  • Half a package farfalle or bowtie pasta
  • Handful or two of cherry tomatoes, halved
  • Half a package of Tofurky Italian Sausage with Sun-Dried Tomatoes & Basil
  • Olive oil
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Heat a pot of water to boiling and add your farfalle to the pot. While it’s cooking, chop your tomatoes and your veggie sausage. When the pasta is done, drain and add the chopped ingredients to the pot. Add some oil and heat everything over a low flame. Stir occasionally so the pasta doesn’t stick to the bottom of your pot! When everything is warmed through, add salt and pepper and whatever else sounds good to taste.

The verdict: This turned out all right. It was definitely filling and tasty, but it took a while for the sausage and tomatoes to warm up. Unfortunately you’ll have to rely on this picky eater’s word for the recipe because Andrew wasn’t too hungry when he got home. I’ll update if he tries some later though. It probably woud’ve been better if (as the package suggested) I’d sauteed the sausages ahead of time so they were crispy. Also, now that I’m paying closer attention to calories, I’m realizing how calorie-heavy soy meats and pasta are.

Yes, I am probably the last person on Earth to realize this.

I’ll have to try this again with more veggies in place of the pasta and sausage. Maybe some zucchini or green beans would do the trick.

In sum: extra points for being tasty and easy to make, but subtract a few points for being kinda heavy and low on veggies.

The Picky Vegetarian

“What should we have for dinner?”

This question seems to be bothering me more than usual lately. With both Andrew and I working full-time jobs, planning a wedding, and trying to get enough sleep, we’ve been resorting more than we should to frozen dinners and eating out. We’ve come a long ways from our days of consisting on Rice-a-Roni and boxed mac and cheese - heck, we essentially learned how to cook together in college - but we still have a ways to go in figuring out quick, healthy, and fun recipes for weeknights.

Both of us are vegetarians, which isn’t such a problem when neither of us has any major food allergies and when we live in a place like Los Angeles. But we aren’t as open-minded as we might be either. Between the two of us, here is a small sampling of the foods we consider meh/dislike/loathe with a passion:

  • Cauliflower
  • Eggplant
  • Bell peppers
  • Avocado (I know, I know)
  • Pineapple
  • Coconut
  • Artichoke
  • Almonds
  • Brussels sprouts
  • Beets
  • Grapefruit
  • Lima beans
  • Baby corn
  • Kidney beans
  • Walnuts

…and the list goes on. You can see why we might have problems from time to time, being picky AND vegetarian. And as much as I love minestrone and stir fry and salads, we need a little variety. Plus, I would love to gradually incorporate some of the aforementioned foods into my diet; most are perfectly acceptable items and I could definitely stand some more fruits and veggies. So! I am going to try a new recipe at least once per week for one year and document how it turns out here. I’m hoping that the result will be some combination of a food diary, a cooking diary, and a plain-old reflection on the joys of finding new/exciting ways to prepare meals.

First up: cottage cheese & apple pancakes (courtesy of Mollie Katzen’s The New Moosewood Cookbook).

Soylent Green

Andrew has encouraged me to post a sort of companion review to his own over at Andrew’s Den, so here goes.

Perhaps the movie’s main plot was ruined for me, since everyone and her mom knows the twist ending. I found the incidental details to be more interesting this time around, so I spent a lot of time picking out background information and trying to pierce together what had happened to society in this scenario. Based on the clothing you see on the female extras (heads covered, long-ish, shapeless dresses) it would seem that society has swung back to a conservative mindset. This is corroborated by the presence of the “furniture” in the film, played entirely by females, and seeming to exist as the literal property of the more-powerful. All of whom, you might notice, are assumed to be men (but, then, maybe this is just an assumption of the period in which the movie was made). Furthermore, even though there are prominent supporting characters in positions of authority played by actors of color, there are no women in equivalent positions. Shirl, the most prominent female character in the movie, doesn’t think much of being passed from one man to another, nor being peremptorily ordered on to the bed by the antihero Thorn (although her expression in her last scene, when her new boss asks her if she’s a “fun girl” and she realizes the bleakness of her future, is heartbreaking). Similarly, the second-biggest female character, Martha, only appears to laze around in short robes and be brutally roughed up by Thorn.

I’ll just put it out there that I kinda hate Thorn, and we can move on.

Anyway, this ties in to the most important thing I took away from Soylent Green, something which you see echoed in other futuristic works about overpopulation like Burgess’ The Wanting Seed. Although people often accuse those going on about the dangers of overpopulation of being insensitive to the miracle that is human life, overpopulation, and all the ugly conflicts that will rise from it, will result in another kind of insensitivity to humanity. In Soylent Green, we see people being reduced to dumb objects and basic functionality—“furniture” and “books.” We also see people being so devalued as to be scooped up by diggers, and (obviously) used for food. It’s pessimistic and cruel, but it’s not such a far cry from what will happen if we continue to ignore the problem of skyrocketing population and dwindling resources.

Outrageous

I don’t know what I can say to add to this article—it speaks for itself in terms of what gay couples have to go through, even in supposedly liberal areas.

Reform

Health care reform and college loan reform getting closer and closer to reality. I’m kind of pinching myself here, since it seems too good to be true. Hopefully the Republicans won’t be able to stop the momentum. We know how fidgety they get when confronted with a higher standard of living for all.

I especially like how paragons of good taste and common sense like Glenn Beck keep saying that the American people have had enough, don’t support these reforms, consider this part of a socialist conspiracy, etc. Where are these horrified Americans you’re speaking for? Because I, for one, am thrilled.

Intellectual Freedom

Recently the MLIS program at UCLA hosted a talk by Loretta Gaffney on the development of Family Friendly Libraries. Although librarians tend to be wary of movements to limit access to information in any capacity, Gaffney gave a very even-handed talk on the rhetoric and concerns of FFL. If you weren’t aware, this organization was founded in 1992 by Karen Jo Gounaud, a mother in Fairfax County, Virginia. Gounaud was concerned about the placement of a LGBT magazine, “The Washington Blade,” in a high-traffic area of the local library. The FFL website, however, attributes her burgeoning activism to concern about “age-inappropriate materials” and “Internet pornography.” This type of subtly manipulative language is typical of FFL rhetoric, which attempts to equate “family” with “heterosexual couples with children.” By extension, they are implying that LGBT reading materials and individuals are somehow disconnected from family units, and, even more maliciously, that LGBT concepts are deliberately harmful to children.

As Gaffney pointed out in her talk, groups like the FFL often argue that they should be allowed to air their views if freedom of speech is truly something we support. That is, the public should hear both “pro-family” and progressive views on this debate. However, many people would argue that the removal or seclusion of LGBT materials is not freedom of expression, but rather prejudice; that the placement of anti-gay reading materials, for which Gounaud and the FFL successfully lobbied in Fairfax County, doesn’t count so much as free speech as hate speech.

This isn’t to say that parents don’t have the right to instill particular values in their children. However, mothers and fathers should have enough confidence in their own parenting that exposure to different views won’t undermine their kids’ beliefs. Furthermore, if parents are concerned about what their children see at the library, or what they might be checking out (another hot topic for the FFL), they should make it a priority to accompany their kids to the library and/or discuss what they’re reading. Protecting and educating your children doesn’t have to mean censorship for the wider public.

Hello, World

I wish I could come up with a suitably clever and sweeping statement to introduce myself, but I suppose you’ll have to settle for random thoughts about my life instead. I’ve been trying to decide between a few different career options—academic libraries, archives/special collections, public libraries—having only begun seriously learning about the field a few months ago. As much as I gushed in my application essay about helping underprivileged kids through literacy (and I did mean it!), I’m leaning towards academic or archival librarianship at the moment. I always was such a nerd, and besides, I’ve heard that there’s not much room for innovation or promotion in public librarianship. The next step would probably be to take more archival/special collections classes, and go talk to the professors with that area of expertise. Now I’m just kicking myself for not taking the History of the Book class last quarter—I thought it sounded intriguing at the time, and now I’m doing a term paper on that very subject! Well, hindsight is 20/20.