This Week’s Reads (March 10, 2017)

When Your Greatest Romance is a Friendship – NYTimes
Cheating a bit with this one as it really should’ve been included in last week’s round-up. A touching, beautiful story of friendship which, like its flashier cousin, love, can be wildly chemical and, like love, can happen in an instant.

How to Undermine Trump – Jacobin Magazine
While the entire (brief) article is worth reading, I found the concluding paragraph particularly powerful as I continue to mull over this week’s Day Without Women:
[T]he nation’s cultural gestalt has shifted over the past century such that people identify more as consumers than as producers, more by what they own and buy than by what they do and make. This is unfortunate, because workers’ power is greater at the point of production than almost anywhere else. That power can and should be used to take on Trump’s agenda.

“The Best Revenge is Your Paper: Notes on Women’s Work – Los Angeles Review of Books
If you’re at all interested in emotional labor, gendered expectations and values around work, or the patriarchy, get thee to this article RIGHT NOW.

What Do We Do With the Clothing of Grief – Racked
This was devastating: We hold pain in our bodies and then cover those bodies with clothes, and in some strange osmosis the pain is drawn into the fabric and woven together with scent, time, and loss.

Republicans are now paying the price for a years-long campaign of Obamacare lies – Vox
Everything about repeal/replace hurts my head. The most recent version hurts my heart. This article does a great job of breaking down the statements, policies, and intentions behind the Republican attacks on the Affordable Care Act, detailing how they’ve essentially painted themselves into a corner by making promises that can’t be fulfilled if they adhere to their party’s values. It’s all maddening and impossible.

You May Want to Marry My Husband – NYTimes
If you haven’t already read this love letter from a dying author about her remarkable husband, you probably should get your box of tissues ready.

This Week’s Reads (March 3, 2017)

This Mom Got Real About The Struggles Of Modern Motherhood – Refinery29
I read this on a morning when we were up at 5:07am with a massive diaper leak that required 6am laundry, which required planting the toddler in front of Lost and Found for ten minutes so that I could also clean up the kitchen enough to make desperately needed coffee as soon as it was reasonable to run the coffee grinder. I hate, hate, hate planting him in front of the TV, even highly vetted super sweet content, because I have this expectation that I should be able to manage him and all of the other balls that are up in the air. This article was a gentle reminder that it isn’t actually necessary to do all of those things simultaneously all the time – but sometimes it IS necessary, and ten minutes of TV isn’t the end of the world it means that IN ten minutes, I’m able to be more sane and present with my child.

#68 Vampire Rules – Reply All
Reply All is a podcast about the internet, and things related to the internet, and things only tangentially related to the internet. I started listening a couple of weeks ago and am currently working my way backward through the archive. This episode had me laughing on my commute, and then laughing at previous laughs, and then laughing some more. In it, the hosts try to figure out the backstory behind a creepy photo discovered on Tinder, which leads to a conversation about what’s acceptable in other people’s spaces, which leads to yes/yes/no, a feature in which the hosts challenge each others’ understanding of internet culture.

If you want to dip your toe into this podcast, may I also recommend #79 Boy in the Photo, which features the most amazing trolling that isn’t even remotely hateful, unlike most of the other trolling these days.

“We cannot find the bill”: inside the frantic hunt for the GOP Obamacare replacement – Vox
In case you needed another reminder that the leadership of our country is 100% cuckoo bananas.

February Eats

1. Red Blanket Sauce – My New Roots
We both love mole, but the mole options in our neighborhood, while delicious, are definitely not vegan-friendly. This spicy, rich, and warming recipe is a step in the right direction. We had the sauce over Ayocote Negro beans served in a roasted acorn squash (for the adults) or over cubed butternut squash (for the shape-obsessed toddler). The acorn squash was logistically difficult, and the sauce could’ve used more heat, but everything was delicious and will definitely be revisited.

2. Broccoli Falafel – She Likes Food
For my birthday dinner at Dusek’s, I had broccoli three ways – one of which was as falafel. I tried to replicate this at home after consulting a bunch of recipes. It – well, it didn’t work. The falafels dissolved when I dropped them in oil. They dried out in the oven. They crumbled when served with lemon tahini, a simple tomato salad, and arugula. Oh well – they looked pretty.

Broccoli

3. Oat Milk – Oh She Glows
Our Vitamix has opened up a world of possibilities for making our own versions of things at home. We regularly buy non-dairy milk, but making our own almond milk didn’t seem like it would be cost effective. Making our own oat milk, however, totally is. Steel cut oats – even organic ones – are cheap when purchased in bulk, and while most recipes call for additional sweeteners, all you really need is filtered water. This recipe calls for multiple rounds of rinsing and straining, but that isn’t strictly necessary either, particularly if you have a nut bag.

4. Red Velvet Pancakes – Chocolate Covered Katie
We don’t make a big deal out of Valentine’s Day in our family, but since the toddler had cards and small gifts from other family members, I thought it might be nice to have a special breakfast treat. These pancakes were…OK. I was suspicious going in when both the fat and the sweetener were optional. I get it. She’s trying to make the pancakes “healthy”. I try to do that as well, and agree that often things are sweetened far beyond what’s strictly necessary. However, 2-3 tablespoons of optional ingredients in a baking recipe seems dicey when those ingredients aren’t mix-ins like dried fruit, nuts, chocolate chips, etc. So I included the fat (sunflower oil) and the sweetener (coconut sugar), because otherwise what’s the point of a special breakfast treat. In the pan, they behaved somewhere between pancakes (bubbling in the middle) and cake (cracking when moved). They came out really thin and really in need of maple syrup. Everyone enjoyed them, but I don’t think I’ll make them again.

5. Eggplant Cannelloni with Sunflower “Meta Feta”
This recipe came from Sarah Britton’s new cookbook, Naturally Nourished, which is lovely but so far not as universally successful as her first book (which I’ve raved about endlessly here and elsewhere). This recipe was equal parts wonderful and – eh. We loved the sauce. We loved the rolled eggplant. We did not love the sunflower “meta feta”.

Seriously, Sarah Britton, what GIVES with the sunflower seed obsession? It’s not rice. It’s not cheese. It’s nothing like rice or cheese. There are plenty of other things that you can use in place of rice and cheese. Stop trying to make sunflower seeds happen.

We’ll make this again, but we’ll either use cheese (for me and the toddler) or crumbled seasoned tofu (for all of us).

Eggplant cannelloni with sunflower

6. Portabella “Pizzas”
Another recipe from Naturally Nourished. We had leftover sauce from the eggplant dish, so we used that instead of the fresh sauce recommended in the recipe. I added a handful of kalamata olives since we had them on hand, and a bit of grated cheese for me and the toddler. These were delicious, albeit a little tricky to eat. We’ll definitely make them again.

The recipe called for six portabella mushroom caps and claimed to serve 4 (or maybe 6) as an entree. 2 caps each left us hungry for the rest of dinner. One cap each would make a wonderful appetizer, not a substantial dinner, even for a toddler.

Portabella

7. Quinoa with Black Beans and Radish Salsa
Another Naturally Nourished recipe, though with no pictures or links, in part because this was made on the screamiest night of screamy toddler screaming that has ever been screamed. It was simple, hearty, and delicious: quinoa tossed with black beans and oven-roasted carrots, topped with a fresh salsa of radishes and shallots. Both recipes were straight forward and easy, though the yield in the salsa was way off – somehow 1.5 cups radishes + other ingredients was supposed to yield 1 cup of salsa. Hmm.

8. Twinkle Twinkle Jeweled Rice
This is such a beautiful, time intensive dish from Naturally Nourished. I halved the recipe and it still made a huge amount of rice. The orange zest overwhelmed the other flavors, including of the fresh herbs, so I’ll use maybe 1/4 of what is recommended the next time. I used currants, cherries, and raisins for the fruit and almonds and pistachios for the nuts.

Twinkle Twinkle Jeweled Rice

9. Golden Curry Coconut Dal
Another no-photo, no link recipe from Naturally Nourished made on a super hungry night with an overtired toddler and overly hungry parents. N was famished and devoured almost the entire recipe. The toddler asked for more – twice! The recipe indicates that this scales up and freezes well, so I imagine this will go into the weekend batch cooking rotation.

This Week’s Reads (February 24, 2017)

How Doctors Take Women’s Pain Less Seriously – The Atlantic
This is horrible and accurate. While you’re feeling angry at the medical establishment, may I suggest also listening to this three part series on Bad Medicine from Freakonomics Radio? The second episode is particularly relevant, as it discusses the role of women in drug and device trials.

The Sanders/Cruz Debate was the Best Political TV in Ages – Current Affairs
I wish I’d seen this debate, and wish that THE debates were structured more along these lines, requiring candidates to dive deep into issues that matter and allowing voters to get a better sense of the true qualifications of the people in whose hands we’re investing tremendous power.

Reflecting on One Very, Very Strange Year at Uber – Susan J. Fowler
As if you needed another reason to dump Uber, Fowler, a former engineer, goes into great detail about a corporate culture that facilitates and enables sexual harassment by looking the other way if the harasser is a rising corporate star and punishing the victim if she stands in the way of the company’s (or the harasser’s) advancement.

This Week’s Reads (February 10, 2017)

A Reporter Explains What Out-Of-Towners Keep Getting Wrong About Chicago Violence – Chicagoist
This felt accurate and true, even in a week when the threat of violence felt very close to home for us.

What Happened to the Great Urban Design Projects? – NYTimes
This was clickbait for me as it relates to urban infrastructure – however, I enjoyed the discussion of the Golden Gate Bridge and of the Atlanta BeltLine, the subject of a book I picked up at Midwinter a few weeks ago.

Super-Ambitious Lake Shore Drive Proposal Would Add Park, Straighten Road – Chicagoist
Speaking of urban design/renewal projects, I’m super excited about the possible changes to Lakeshore Drive and the lakefront, even though they’re a few years off.

Is Obama’s official White House photographer trolling Donald Trump? – The Guardian
I love this.

January Eats

One of my resolutions was to try four new recipes each month. Here’s what I tried:

1. 1 Pot Kale Sweet Potato Curry – Minimalist Baker
We used to eat a lot of curry, but after two bouts of food poisoning from curry in two years (once at home, once at a restaurant in Antwerp), it’s been out of rotation for awhile. We had everything on hand, though, so I tentatively suggested this for dinner last week, and oh, I’m so glad I did. I substituted butternut squash for the sweet potato and served it over quinoa – and we ate the entire thing. The toddler finished his and asked (repeatedly) for more cubes. N liked it enough that he suggested we make it again two days later. It was equally good over brown rice, and with twice as much curry as I initially used. We’ll definitely be making this again.

Untitled

2. Coconut Lentils – Budget Bytes I kicked off the year with a very strict diet after the indulgent holiday season – a week or so of no animal products, grains, artificial sweeteners, or alcohol. I like doing this from time to time in order to reset my habits (and my cravings) – I also find that it helps me get back in the swing of meal planning and cooking, very necessary steps especially when I eat at least one meal per day away from home. I made a big batch of these lentils for a week’s worth of lunches on a Sunday night. My kitchen smelled heavenly – but unfortunately they were really bland on their own, and by day two, I felt sad eating my bowl of porridge. I will make these again, but not as a main dish.

3. The Life-Changing Loaf of Bread – My New Roots I am madly in love with the My New Roots cookbook, and was excited to try this grain-free “bread”. It’s loaded with nuts and seeds and fiber – all good things, right? Except that it came out of the pan sticky, dense, and not really sliceable – and then sat in our bellies like a brick, which is what it also resembled. The LCLOB was apparently the recipe that launched the MNR blog into the stratosphere – but I would assert that it is neither life-changing, nor a loaf, nor really bread. The toddler liked it, but we stuck the rest in the fridge to feed to the squirrels.

Untitled

4. Spicy Spaghetti Squash with Black Beans
This was another serendipitous recipe that used up a lot of things that we had on hand. We didn’t go for the full in-the-squash presentation – not terribly practical when you’re serving three – but no one seemed to mind. This is another definite rerun.

Spicy spaghetti squash

5. Indian Spiced Cauliflower Soup – Smitten Kitchen
I love cauliflower, and we all love Indian food, but I have to say that the strictly vegan version of this recipe was a little eh. The toddler and I had yogurt in ours which improved the flavor, but something was still off. Maybe it was too watery? We liked it enough to try it again, but not immediately.

6. Really, though, the big winner this month was the smoothie bowl, especially now that we have a fabulous (refurbished) Vitamix to do our bidding.

1/3/17 Green smoothie bowl 1/4/17 Pumpkin pie smoothie bowl

1/5/17 Eating the rainbow smoothie bowl 1/9/17 Froyo smoothie bowl

This Week’s Reads (1/27/2017)

I don’t have a lot of extra cycles this week. I was in Atlanta last weekend at a conference doing conference things (meetings! attending presentations! carrying too much stuff around!), sharing meals and drinks with friends and colleagues that I don’t see often enough, and participating in the Atlanta March for Social Justice and Women (more on that later). Reentry after these whirlwind trips is always hard, but it’s been particularly overwhelming this week, when several work projects have come together at the same time while (it feels like) our country has imploded around us. I’ve alternated between trying to read all the news and make all the phone calls – and feeling so exhausted and demoralized by any one piece of news that I just want to put my head in the sand and tune out for the next four years. But I can’t do that.

I spent Tuesday morning teleworking from our car dealership – just routine service stuff – and the sign on the TV made me feel a little more sane, as did some of the below links. Right now it’s really hard to know how to direct our energy, where we can do the most good, or what news we should trust. It seems like the best thing we can do is keep leaning on each other as we find our way through.

Don’t shame the first steps of a resistance – SocialistWorker.org
Oh boy, did I need to read this. I’ve already talked about feeling shame about not doing enough before the election. This has been compounded by shaming in various online spaces from more active or established activists.We can and should all do better. Every event, movement, organization, and individual can be more inclusive. “But endless social media critiques with no commitment to diving into that struggle for the kind of movement we want is not a serious approach.”

After Women’s March, Longtime Chicago Activists Answer ‘What Next?’ – Chicagoist
Reflections and ideas for action from Chicago-area activists

How To Mobilize Your Election Fear & Anger Into Action In Chicago – Chicagoist
This is from November, but it’s worth a reread for Chicago-area folks. Lots of links to organizations that can use your help.

Ways To Take Effective Action Following The Magnificent Women’s March – Gothamist
Specific action items for leveraging the nascent movement embodied in the Women’s March

Trump’s executive order on Obamacare, explained by two health policy experts – Vox
This gives me at least a little hope that the repeal of the ACA, if it happens, won’t be as catastrophic as feared. (It will still be bad.)

Chicago To Trump: Go F*ck Yourself
“Chicago isn’t perfect. We have a dickhead for mayor, horribly crooked cops, an insane murder rate, and over 100 years of institutionalized racism that is literally embedded in the city’s infrastructure, but threatening the city with armed soldiers is a historically bad idea. Just the fact that a city built by immigrants and full of refugees, transplants, hipsters, and olds could unite to tell the highest elected official in the country to take a flying fuck at a rolling doughnut is proof that something good is happening.”