Archive for January, 2008

New Thai Restaurant

Thursday, January 31st, 2008

I almost didn’t try Marnee, the new Thai restaurant on Main near William. A friend said it was awful — although I don’t recall who it was. Then one of my many friends named Laura told me it was actually great. So I took my nephew for dinner there tonight.

He was impressed, loved his calamari appetizer and the main dish (name escapes me- it was a chicken dish spiced hot) and the sticky wild rice with mango and coconut for desert. I also thought his desert was outstanding. The wild rice option was wonderful.

I had a simple red curry sauce with tofu and peppers – very nice. Exactly how I like it.

The service was great, atmosphere pleasant, just well done all around.

It is great to have a close in good Thai place I can walk to. Reasonable prices as well. We both thought it was a place that would be well worth a return visit.

After dinner I got some help with a few computer glitches, and it was fun to spend time with my brilliant and wonderfully unusual nephew, as always.

Favorite Cheesecake

Monday, January 28th, 2008

I’ve had many requests for this one. It is the best cheesecake I’ve ever had. But it depends on the sort of cheesecake you like. This is a stand up firm and really rich desert – some cheesecakes are softer and more sour creamy. I serve this in small slivers and people look alarmed – until they bit in and realize how rich it is.
This version takes a food processor. It is by far the easiest and fastest method.

Crust: with the blade attachment, blend a stick of butter (or a little less) with 7-10 squares of whole wheat graham crackers and a generous handful of almonds. it should stick together when blended, but leave it a bit chunky. Press that into the bottom of either a spring form pan or an aluminum cake pan with removable bottom (I find these pans recently and they perform better than my best stainless spring form. I don’t like aluminum but this is exceptional….)

Filling: Blend 1 1/2 pounds (3 packages) cream cheese, 3 eggs, 1 cup sour cream, 1/4 cup dark rum, 3/4 tsp. cinnamon, 3/4 tsp almond extract, and 2 cups sugar until very smooth.

Chocolate: add chocolate. There are a number of options I’ve used. You can melt chocolate chips with cream and swirl it in once the batter is in the pan, you can add the melted chocolate to the batter and blend it thoroughly, you can sprinkle chocolate chips into the batter and blend or not, you can add chocolate chips as a topping once the batter is in the pan. All are good. But use at least 1/2 pound semi sweet chocolate, I use Ghiradellis usually. If you melt the chips, do it with about 3 Tbsp cream.

Put the batter and whatever chocolate method you choose into the pan that has the crust.

Bake at 350 degrees for 55-65 minutes. Cool before serving.

Fabulous.

My recipe is adapted from “The Vegetarian Epicure Book Two” by Anna Thomas. I bought it soon after it came out in 1978, so I’ve been using it for about 30 years. Boy do I feel old saying that! But over 30 years this recipe has held up for me like no other. It has been my birthday cake for at least the last 20 years, except for that strange birthday I spent alone in Puerto Rico. I ended up ordering a pizza from Pizza Hut. I ate that alone and lonely in the courtyard of my cheap hotel listening to the tiny frogs (the coqui) singing and the warm winds smelling of salt and pleasure.

I remember thinking that spending my birthday alone and far from everyone I knew was not such a good idea, even in such a wonderful place. Swimming in the beautiful warm blue waters helped. A piece of this cheesecake would have also helped.

story on herbs

Monday, January 28th, 2008

I was just interviewed for a follow up story on herbal use in poorer communities. It was done by the Great Lakes Radio Consortium.
You can read and hear the earlier story here – which includes an interview with my friend Suzie Zick.

It is a nice little piece on herbs and traditions.

Letter to Editor Printed

Monday, January 28th, 2008

The Ann Arbor News printed my letter to the editor tonight

I think this is one that will not attract the attention of the crazy typewriter using conservative hateful name calling Christian from the Detroit area. Only mega foods can object to this one.

Here is what I wrote:

Monday, January 28, 2008

Ann Arbor shows support for local foods

It is indeed exciting news that local, organic, sustainable and natural foods have become so popular that Ann Arbor is adding two more grocery stores that will focus on these items. The benefits to our local farmers, the health and well-being of the consumer, and of course the environmental benefits are clear and well-documented. Those benefits could even be described as critical as the connection between nourishing food and health has been well-researched, as well as awareness of the benefits to our endangered of eating more local food.

Your front-page article on Jan. 10 failed to mention the two local stores that have supported local, natural and organic foods since before they were front-page news: Arbor Farms and The People’s Food Co-op. Both are locally owned, and in the case of the co-op we now boast over 6,000 member-owners, almost all of them living in Ann Arbor and the surrounding community.

Having more great choices and selection in groceries will be a benefit to Ann Arbor as a whole, but please also remember the locally owned businesses that have been here all along and include them when you are weighing where to shop.

I’m proud that Ann Arbor is showing tangible support for local foods, natural foods and our local farmers. It isn’t as much a competition as it is a demonstration of how much we value our own and our community’s health and wellness.

Linda Diane Feldt, Ann Arbor

The writer is president of the Ann Arbor People’s Food Co-op board of directors.

It’s just missing a few of the original words…. Oh well. Slightly garbled first paragraph.

good news

Monday, January 28th, 2008

the good news for this week includes:
Tonight is Bush’s LAST state of the union address. The countdown is real, and we’ll have a series of lasts to celebrate one by one.
Lost begins the new season Thursday. Seems like forever since the last new show, but this is an intelligent show that I will admit in public I love.
I have three days set aside beginning Friday to celebrate the beginning of my last year in the 40’s (and starting the next half century on this planet).
It is hard for me to take time off, harder still to set aside work since I work from home. Hard to step aside from constantly being concerned and working to help other people be healthier and safer. Somehow I feel more permission to do that with a birthday. Happy to start another year healthier and happier than in a very very long time. Not something to take for granted. I’m very grateful.
I cut my hair – or really Joanne did. Seems like that is good news. It is certainly rare news. It feels drastic to me, but most will never notice.
…and the last bit of good news is that it is time to plant tomatoes indoors for spring outdoor planting. The end is in sight, the weeds will soon be up with the bulbs, and fresh wild and homegrown greens are only weeks away. Time to eat everything left from last year, and get ready for more. Yum.

But of all that, the fact that there is less than a year left of Bush as President certainly is the best. We might make it through without too much more damage. Hey, I’m an optimist.

innovative bike that solves water and air pollution for family

Monday, January 28th, 2008

Bicycles are underutilized. Simple technology, simple to use. And this project combines uses and needs in a way that is so elegant.

7 years only

Sunday, January 27th, 2008

Royal Dutch Shell has publicly predicted that demand for oil will exceed supply in just seven years.

Somehow having the date – 2015 – attached to essentially the end of life as we’ve known it is a bit sobering.

The babies who are born now will be barely in school by the time their parents will have to rethink the ease of toting kids everywhere in the family minivan.

The next seven years will be interesting — and I certainly hope that this is not just all a publicity manipulation to advance the cause of nuclear energy and environmental devastation so that we can keep up our bizarre lifestyles.

And I suppose that if I’m going to buy that new car I should make sure it can be converted to alternate fuels.

Al Gore on Gay Rights

Saturday, January 26th, 2008

If only it could be this easily understood by all the actual candidates.
Sigh.

http://gristmill.grist.org/story/2008/1/23/233036/836

meme: 7 weird jobs

Saturday, January 26th, 2008

One of my may friends named Laura tagged me for a meme on seven weird jobs you have had.

I need to stretch the definition of weird, to focus on unusual. I’ve been working since I was 14 almost continuously, but nearly all the jobs were actually really cool.

1.
One that stands out as just a weird fit was working for H&R Block in the back room, copying tax returns by using a blueprint machine. Way back then — in the old days — that was the easiest and cheapest ways to make copies I guess. So I would run them through, endure the ammonia fumes, and collate the returns.

2.
I worked for the Governor of Michigan, essentially, receiving a per diem for attending meetings and making advisory statements on issues of juvenile justice. $40 a day plus food and travel expense. Seemed like a lot in the ’70s I was just 15 and 16. I ended up with three different governor’s appointments and was about to progress to the federal level with Jimmy Carter when I realized this was a terrible career path that would ultimately destroy me. I am thankful for that insight.

3.
At age 19 I was the director of a federally funded runaway house. Now that is weird. Could never happen now.

4.
I was the first female bell hop ever hired at the Campus Inn. To fill out my schedule I also did some work on the switchboard. I was happy to represent the extremes of sexually stereotyped jobs. As a bell hop many people were disturbed by having a young woman carry their bags. A number of men would put their own bags on the cart, let me push it, and then insist on lifting them off and then wold over tip me in their nervousness. I was outraged for a while and then realized I was doing less work and making more money. Did it really make sense to be upset?

A wonderful perk of that job was access to the hotel’s master key. Which opened the door to the roof. The hotel was either 13 or 14 stories – and it was a thrill to go up on the roof and watch the sun set or just hang out. It was sometimes hard work (a tour bus would come in and you had half an hour to deliver 40 or more bags for $.50 each) football Saturdays were nuts and the whole team would stat on one floor the night before the game (I pretended once I didn’t know who Bo Schembechler was when his car was blocking the entrance — that was fun and I got to drive his car… it was an ugly maize Cadillac).

5.
One truly weird job was as a contract employee involved with creating the Hummer car. I worked on the data base of parts involved in building the thing. I actually had to go into American General a few times to work. Bizarre atmosphere, strangely lax security for a place with so many military contracts, but I was part of that history. I have mixed feelings, obviously.

6.
There was a job I had that helped me to have close contact with a segment of the population I had avoided until then. In the very early 80s I was the massage therapist and reflexologist for a residential health spa. The women were rich, high society, mostly housewives, indulged, and had the whole make up and shoes and clothes thing down. It was weird to do the whole fawning and further indulging thing with them, and often engage in pretty intimate conversation. Overall a really good experience, but I had never imagined that so many women had completely ruined feet from wearing high heels.

7.
I suppose the only weird job left was working for the census bureau for the 1980 census. I was a crew leader, I hired a bunch of college students to do the enumeration of the dorms. I had to follow a perfectly awful training process, and then keep on top of their work. It was hard, any time I strayed from “the way” I was yelled at by my supervisor, it was impossible to introduce humane and reasonable ways of doing things. I was demoted to return checker, and again discouraged from suggesting better or more intelligent ways of doing things. I would foresee a clash down the line because of the way one section was doing something that another section would soon take over — if we followed the rules it would be more work. At that age I just was so frustrated that no one seemed to care that we could do better work by innovation. I didn’t understand that better work was not the point, saving time and money was pointless, and the illusion of following rules and making it real was all that mattered.

But it was a fascinating experience.
_________
So that’s my seven — I’ve actually held very few jobs, being self employed for over 25 years. Just a few part time things to fill in the gaps in all that time. And my jobs of my youth were pretty fabulous – interviewing, working at the UM Botanical Gardens, making bronze bells, and a few stray computer jobs. Never a waitress, never fast food, the most mindless work I ever did was for my dad making manuals and other collating and office work. Still not that bad.

Warning: a bit of self indulgence

Wednesday, January 23rd, 2008

This week is an astonishing blend of sorrow and joy, fear and calm. I’m finding it a bit difficult to stay grounded – aware and on top of the many tasks and what is required of me.

Juliana’s death has been so bitter sweet spending time with her family and friends and the transcendent state they are in. The death of a young child is so deeply painful, the community response and being with people who are facing this loss so directly and openly is profoundly sweet.

Dating has been just joyful. Not much else to say in a public blog, but certainly my current experience is also making it hard to focus and stay on the planet energetically.

Today, I’ve learned that my last blood related relative of my parents generation has passed. My uncle died in Seattle this weekend. Mixed emotions there. We weren’t close, less so since my mom died (he is her brother), but there are still ties and memories and feelings. His kids are people I would love to be with much more than we are, but it even seems unlikely that I’ll be able to get out to the memorial service as it will take place during the most critical time for my health class.

And now all my aunts and uncles are gone, my uncle’s wife and my dad remain and that is all.

We continue to wait for my brother and his health crisis.

I have lots of space this week time to be. Classes starting at Steiner, a new class tomorrow night on herbs and responding to bacterial threats. The end of my 48th year coming to a close, so I’m in the darkest time of the solar return cycle.

I can’t say much a whole lot more profound than this, life is feeling very real and precious just now, the extremes of joy and sorrow, and priorities have shifted pretty dramatically. What matters is the community I am part of, the people in it, and being open to the deep intimacy and connections that matter. That is what is most important to me right now. And I’m so blessed that it is available to me and real.

Thank you.