Friday, June 24, 2016

2016 CSA Week 2 - Crunch!

This week brings us:
Green Garlic
Pea Shoots
Zucchini (x2)
Rainbow Chard

The plan is pretty simple, I think. 
  • The radishes and cucumber I will eat raw with lunch.
  • The lettuce and pea shoots will be used on Dr. BB's sandwiches at lunch time. We are also having tacos for dinner one night this week and we'll use the lettuce on those, as well.
  • The rainbow chard will be cooked in a frittata.
  • The green garlic and scallions will probably get used in the taco meat and the frittata and I'll use some of them in my lunches, but chances are pretty good we won't use about half of them.
  • The parsley is the only challenging ingredient.  I might make some pesto (and use more of the garlic and scallions) and freeze it to use later.  

 And here's what ended up in the fridge.

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Playlist: East to West Across America

Summer is about road trips with the windows down and the music blaring. Here's my current playlist of songs that I'm listening to on those rare occasions I'm alone in the car. I put them together in a June: East to West list on Spotify.

1) "Whoever's in New England" - Reba McIntire
     Apparently there are some people who don't care for Reba. I think those people are crazy.

2) "Please Come to Boston" - Joan Baez
     This song has been covered like crazy, but we all know Joan does it best.

3) "Streets of Philadelphia" - Bruce Springsteen
     You can't have a road trip list without Springsteen on it.

4) "Oh My Sweet Carolina" - Ryan Adams
     When we first started dating, Dr. BB put this on a mixed tape (it was actually a CD) for me. It's a nostalgic love song.

5) "Wagon Wheel" - Old Crow Medicine Show
     My nephew loves this song and I always think about him when it comes on.

6) "Tennessee" - Sugarland
     I don't know. I think Jennifer Nettles is amazing and this song shows off her voice.

7) "Kentucky Rain" - Elvis Presley
     There's another song about Kentucky?

8) "Look at Miss Ohio" - Gillian Welch
      My friend's band plays this song at every gig. It'll get in your head.

9) "Saginaw, Michigan" - Lefty Frizzel
      If you thought I was leaving Michigan out of this road trip, you don't know me well.

10) "The Devil Went Down to Georgia" - Charlie Daniels
     I really do some serious chair dancing when this comes on.

11) "Beaumont" - Hayes Carll
     We saw Hayes Carll in concert last week. He was amazing.  According to his post-song chatter, this is a romanticized version of Beaumont and it's actually not all that awesome a town. Don't plan your vacation around it.

12) "All My Ex's Live in Texas" - George Strait
     It's a classic.

13) "(The Man Who Shot) Liberty Valance" - Gene Pitney
     I would have put "In Lonesome Dove" by Garth Brooks on the list in this place, but the Brooks catalog is not available on Spotify.

14) "Portland, Oregon" - Loretta Lynn and Jack White
    I listen to the Van Lear Rose album more than I should. My obsession with Loretta Lynn is nearing my levels of obsession with Garth Brooks, Harry Potter, and Zelda the Cat.

15) "All the Gold in California" - Larry Gatlin
    There are so many songs about California and while I briefly considered putting a Beach Boys song here, I decided to keep it country. 

Monday, June 20, 2016

Walden Warming (It's the Longest Day of the Year!)

I recently heard an older episode of You're The Expert (more on my love for that show here) that had Richard Primack as the designated expert. Primack was on the show promoting his book Walden Warming: Climate Change Comes to Thoreau's Woods and I was intrigued by a few things he said and so I immediately requested it from my public library.
Primack, a botanist, studied tropical rain forests for the first twenty years of his career. Then he noticed that when he was teaching global warming in his classes at Boston University that the examples in the textbooks he was assigning of a supposedly global phenomenon were primarily taken from far-reaching (to students in Massachusetts) places like Africa, Antarctica, and Asia.  He wanted to make it local and demonstrate the impact and importance of global warming and climate change to everyone.  So he stopped working in the tropics and started researching how climate change has impacted Walden Pond.

It turns out that Primack knew very little about Henry David Thoreau, but he eventually learned that throughout the 1840s Thoreau kept extensive records about the first day of "ice-out," the first day ice no longer covers most of the water, the first buds and flowerings of certain trees and flowers, and bird sightings. So Primack replicated that for several years in the 2000s.  (Spoiler: Climate change has impacted both flora and fauna in this area of Massachusetts.)

As a social scientist, I found the methods Primack used to be super interesting. He spent years looking for historical records on things like fish, insects, and amphibian life in the area and the joy in his rare victories comes off the page so infectiously I occasionally threw my raised fist up in the air to celebrate with him.

His writing style is absolutely accessible to non-biology oriented people. I, for one, don't know a proboscis from a stamen, but this book did not make me feel in any way that I had to go read a textbook to catch up. I didn't find it patronizing, either, so it carefully walked a line between an entry in an encyclopedia for children and a botanical journal meant to be read only by people with doctorates in obscure branches of plant biology.  It was also quite funny at times.  Consider the following passage:

"Despite working on plants in Concord from 2003 to 2006, an despite our many contacts and friends within the community of birders, on the one hand, and Thoreau scholars, on the other, no one had told us that Thoreau had kept a detailed record of bird arrival times in Concord! WE found out only later that many of them knew about Thoreau's bird records. I only learned about the records because of a brief reference to them in a book that I was reading." (page 101)

I laughed so hard at this. Of course everyone assumed that Primack knew everything there was to know about Thoreau, while, in fact, he knew virtually nothing about Thoreau.

Anyway, this book is engaging and witty and terrifying all at the same time. I recommend it to all.

Friday, June 17, 2016

2016 CSA Week 1 - Greens! Greens! Greens!

First week of our CSA! Whoohoo!

Here what we got:
Green Garlic
Red Russian Kale
Pea Shoots
Purple Mizuna

I'll eat the radishes raw. 

We're going to make a spinach and potato frittata with some of the spinach and maybe a bit of the green garlic.   

The kale is going to be used in a polenta lasagna.  We'll probably use some of the green garlic in that, too.

Dr. BB will put the pea shoots in the sandwiches he eats at lunch.

We're going to do burgers and fries this weekend (what? it's summer now), so I'll saute the radish greens and mizuna and maybe some of the spinach with some of the green garlic as a side.

I actually think we've got this basket under control.  Come week 15 I may not be as confident.

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Reasons I Won't Finish a Romance Novel

I read a lot of trashy romance novels on my Kindle. Once I factor into deals I get from BookBub and  Reading Deals, and what I can borrow from my local library, it is rare that a day goes by that I don't put something free or very low cost on my e-reader. I'm also a big fan of supporting authors, so if I read a good book from an author that I got a deal on, I'll actually buy more.  But since I am getting a lot of these books for free, I also get some duds. Here's what will make me delete the book from my e-reader and vow never to read another from that author.

1) Instalove - Our eyes met across the crowded dance floor, and that was it. Our love was fated.  This is bullshit. I totally get that physical attraction exists and some people just have physical chemistry, but that is not love. It may even turn into love with some, you know, time, conversation, and honesty.  But as soon as a character chimes in with "as soon as I saw him/her, I knew that my future would include him/her," I will delete that shit.

I understand the the genre of romance novels is built upon unrealistic expectations and that happily ever after isn't really a real thing, but most of the time those fortuitous meet-cutes are just based on one of the characters finding the other character perfect in some way and I refuse to let perfection interfere with my submersion into the fantasy world I'm already implicitly buying into.  If you immediately meet someone and feel attraction, rock on, that's great. But "I fell in love" with his/her eyes/rear end/curves/muscles/ is just not going to cut it in my world, especially when the character who says this consistently refers back to that physical characteristic as a reason for love. It's an inability to recognize that your partner may not always be perfect, physically or otherwise.

2) Abuse turned affection - I'm not a fan of the near sexual assault/drunken "hook-up" that is actually RAPE that turns into long-lasting love. Because NO. That's not what happens.

If your partner is too drunk to get him/herself home, your partner is too drunk to give consent. If your partner is going to wake up in the morning and ask "what did I do last night?" you do not get to answer "I took off your clothes and seduced you" as code for rape. 

3) Dumb plot points - I know I've talked about this before, but if your entire tension is built around something that could be cleared up with a simple conversation, I'm going to get pissed and probably stop reading. I do understand that misunderstandings happen in the real, non-romance novel world, but this just drives me insane because usually it just makes people look dumb, like communication is the world's hardest skill. And, frankly if this is your "one true love" and you can't ask them why they weren't at the office when you called and they were supposed to be there, your relationship is fucking doomed. Don't give me that excuse that it "was just a little misunderstanding." You're going to continue to have these misunderstandings until you get divorced. Got it?  Stop doing this, romance novel authors.

4) The kid question - There are so many romance novels I love until I get to the epilogue and it's in a birthing room.  Children do not mean happily ever after.  Frankly, I'm not even a fan of the epilogue that's a wedding.  I mean, both weddings and (some) children are great, but what makes a life is the day to day happiness. It's the laughing over how he forgot to defrost the turkey for dinner again, the silly dancing around the living room to the theme song of your favorite television show, and the joy of just another day together.

I also will stop reading if someone is really only with a partner because of kids. They want kids, they have kids and need someone to help them care for the kids, or they're being bribed into having kids (think Great Aunt Mildred left me this giant house but only if I get married and have kids within two years).   I just can't read this shit. 

5) Just get a copyeditor, already - Okay, I know. I make a ton of punctuation and grammatical mistakes in this space, but I don't edit my entries, charge to read this site, or pretend that it's my "career." It drives me batty when I notice mistake after mistake in novels. I know that a lot of them are independently published and authors are trying to save money, but authors need to pony up the money for a copyeditor. If your mistakes are distracting to me, chances are that I will not get much beyond a chapter or two.

End complaints.

It's weird to complain about something I get for free most of the time.

Next time I'll tell you about some of my favorite trashy novels. That will be less whiny.

Thursday, June 09, 2016

Jail Break Time!

As part of my regular peripatetic lifestyle, I walk by what Wisconsinites call a "lake," but as a native Michigander I must report is more of a large pond.  Yesterday there was an adorable black Labrador frolicking in the lake as I strolled by. Some woman asked me if it was my dog and while I was tempted to say yes and just steal the dog, I told the truth.  It turns out that the dog had been playing in the area around the lake for about half an hour and no one would claim the dog.

I coaxed the dog, who from here on out will be called Sweetie because that's what I called her, over to me and checked her out. She was well fed and had on a red collar, but she didn't have an id tag.  The other lady, let's call her Tube Top Woman, reported that her husband had called the police, but that Sweetie was resistant to being moved away from the lake.

I grabbed Sweetie's collar, took her over to a sheltered area with picnic tables, and we sat there. She was panting like mad, so some dude who was having lunch at one of the tables gave her some water. I just kept holding her collar while Tube Top Woman left to run back to her house to see if she could find a leash. Meanwhile, Sweetie was accepting pets from me, water from a bottle, and was just generally the friendliest mutt ever.

And then the police came and put her in the back of a squad car.

I got the dog arrested.

Who wants to go with me to break her out of jail?

Monday, June 06, 2016

The Road to Wellville by T.C. Boyle

One of the women in our book club has been preaching the merits of T. C. Boyle since we started meeting, so we finally gave in and decided to read The Road to Wellville as our book club this month. After a string of decidedly depressing books, this darkly comedic book was a hit.  We kept interrupting to read each other passages from the book that were either hilarious or disgusting (and sometimes both).

This is historical fiction about Kellogg's infamous health spa, the San, in Battle Creek, Michigan at the turn of the twentieth century.  I have no idea how Boyle did his research, but the little bits of details about the time period that he intersperses in the narrative really made it an interactive experience for me as I kept having to stop and look things up. Most of what I looked up was about the medical diagnoses (what is greensickness? Bright's disease?), but I was also really curious about the entertainment at the San.  Who were these vaudeville performers? Was there really a wolf that Kellogg would trot out to show how great eating only vegetables was?
Each of those flags is something I looked up!
I also spent a good hour delving into the history of John Harvey Kellogg himself. Yes, he and his wife really did foster 42 children and they adopted eight of them. They never had biological children together and it may be that they didn't because, along with espousing a belief in a vegetarian diet and a regimen of exercise, Kellogg believed in abstinence from alcohol, tobacco, and sexual stimulation. This is not a life I want to lead, it turns out. I would have lasted the length of a long weekend at the San, I'm afraid.

Anyway, it's rare that I enjoy a historical fiction book as much as I did this one, so I highly recommend it. I also immediately put a copy of Drop City on hold at the local library. It may very well turn into the summer of T.C. Boyle. 
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