Saturday, June 24, 2006

Burritos in the Kitchen

Okay, the first thing to tell everyone is we'll be using a microwave for today's recipe. That's only a microwave -- not a microwave in addition to other things. (However, I just remembered when my oldest son moved out, he didn't have a microwave until we, my husband and I learned of that, in his apartment and bought him one. So everyone probably doesn't have a microwave. For those who don't, I'll provide directions on how to cook the recipe without one.)

Community member Keesha's nine-year-old son e-mailed me asking about snacks he could fix himself. It was a wonderful e-mail and I called Keesha after (we've served on the blog selection committees for The Common Ills permalinks before) to discuss what sort of things she was comfortable with him using and if he had any allergies. So this recipe is for Andre and for anyone who wants something easy to make.

Here's what we need:

a can of refried beans

That's it.

Here's extras if you have them on hand:

a container of salsa
a jar of jalapeno peppers

For microwave users:

Put a tortilla on a plate flat. Spoon a spoonful of refried beans onto the tortilla. Repeat for two. Microwave for 2 minutes. (You can probably fit three comfortable on one plate through careful arrangment. Note that you do not stack them on top of each other, you place them side by side. However, when you try for three, you end up with a big dab in the center of the tortilla -- big dab of refried beans -- so just go for two.)

For those without a microwave:

Heat a can of refried beans on the stove over a medium temperature, stirring frequently, until the beans are warm. For the tortilla, you can heat it, on both sides, in a warm skillet. You do not need butter or any butter bustitute. Put the burner on low, allow a minute for the skillet to warm, then place the tortilla in it for no more than thirty seconds on each side.

For everyone:

If that's all you're doing, you're done. Roll it up and enjoy. For those who have other things on hand, you can add the ingredients now. A lot of people like to microwave the cheese. If you do, go for it. However, if you add cheese after you take the plate from the microwave, it will melt on top of the beans. I think it tastes better that way but, more importantly, Andre won't have to worry about burning the roof of his mouth.

After you add the cheese, you can add whatever else you're using. The 'rule' I have is salsa goes on top. I usually add a little lettuce first, then some tomatoes, then two jalapeno peppers and then salsa. I'll sprinkle some pepper on top, roll up the tortilla and call it a burrito.

Tomtatoes can be sliced or chopped. Andre has been helping his mother with salads this year so he knows how to slice a tomato into rounds, that's fine. If he thinks the tomatoe round is too big, he can slice one round in half and use a half on each burrito. For lettuce, you can chop it or you can tear it from the lettuce head. With all vegetables, remember to rinse them before using them.

Keesha's teaching Andre to grate carrots. With grated carrots, you could add them to the tortilla at any point but they may test best if you put them on the tortilla after you'd smoothed out the refried beans on them with a spoon. They would warm with the beans and you could have them that way or you could add as a sprinkling at any point.

If you come home from school and you think you're starving, you may be tempted to crowd the plate with more tortillas or to fix a second plate to pop into the microwave as soon as the first is done. Don't do that. Keep two on the plate because you want room to smooth out the refried beans. If you just leave them in a clump, they're not cooking through and sections will be hard while others are cold. Eat the one or two burritos you've fixed and, if you're still hungry and dinner is a ways off, fix another one after you've eaten the first (or the first two).

Lettuce and tomatoes can be prepared ahead of time and kept in containers or a bag in the fridge. If you go with just the tortilla and the beans, you've at least prepared one vegetable (beans). If you go all out, you've gotten several vegetables and a fruit (tomatoes are fruits) into your diet. You can play with the recipe and see what works. (My son Mike always prefers spinach to iceberg lettuce. If he's making this or a sandwich and there's nothing but iceberg lettuce in the kitchen, he'll pull some spinach out of the fridge and use it instead.)

That was for Andre and, hopefully, something everyone else can use as well.

So this week? In the United States, we saw another revelation of an unchecked Bully Boy spying on the American people. Only this time, it turns out that he's claiming the right to rifle through all of our finances on a whim as opposed to under a court order. With a nod to Mike's commentary on this yesterday, I'll add that, at this rate, his next stop will be my panty drawer.
Whether he was ever elected or not, he has become the nation's First Peppeing Tom.

Instead of focusing on that, the media has whipped itself into a frenzy that a group of young men who appear to have serious problems (though not problems that make them a danger to anyone but themselves) have been dubbed "terrorists" and arrested. Well, November's not that far away and it's been awhile since they used the color coded terror alerts so that's probably the next step.

In the Senate? The Democrats presented two "plans." One was actually a plan and one was a plea, a non-binding plea. The plan was put forward by John Kerry and Russ Feingold. It would have combat troops out of Iraq by July 2007 -- basically one year from now. This plan won only the support of thirteen. (Including my other senator, Ted Kennedy, whose vote on this wasn't surprising but I was still glad to see.) The plea proved more popular and won 39 votes.

To put it in kitchen terms, Senators Kerry and Feingold said, "Come on over next year on the Fourth of July and we'll have some steaks." Harry Reid and the other do-noting Dems proposed, "I fix dinner all the time, every night. If you stop over sometime, I'd really like you to, I can whip up something for you, if you'd like. I'm a really good cook and maybe some time, if you want, you can come over and I'll show you."

So the war drags on.

And in Iraq? I'm posting C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot" from Friday below. But I will note that even the heavily fortified Green Zone is no longer safe from the threat of mass violence. Not just a bomb now but an actual invasion. That almost happened on Friday.

So since only thirteen Senators (twelve Democrats and one Independent, Jim Jeffords) had the guts to say the illegal war needs to come to an end, we've got no end in sight. Iraqis, Americans and anyone with a government foolish enough to stay in the so-called coalition of the willing (following Italy's announcement last week that they'd be pulling out by year's end, Japan made a similar announcement this wekk) will continue to be wounded and die because the Bully Boy upended all notions of right and wrong.

Here's C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot" from yesterday:

Chaos and violence continue.
The ten day old "crackdown" in Baghdad, which has had little measurable impact on stopping violence, sprouted a new development today: "State of emergency." As
Amy Goodman (Democracy Now!) noted this morning, "Earlier today, insurgents set up roadblocks and opened fire on U.S. and Iraqi troops close to the US-run Green Zone." The Associated Press reports this was done as fighting forces seemed intent on breaching "the heavily fortified Green Zone." As Sandra Lupien noted on KPFA's The Morning Show, amidst the violence, US troops "rushed to the area." Current prime minister Nouri al-Maliki has "ordered everyone off the streets" of Baghdad, provided "broader arrest powers" and placed "a ban on carrying weapons."
last declared a state of emergency (or martial law) in November of 2004 for the entire country (exempting only Kurdish areas in the north).
Then prime minister Iyad Allawi declared it when
violence broke out through much of the country as US forces geared up for their attack on/slaughter of Falluja. Current prime minister al-Maliki has declared a state of emergency for Baghdad only. A state of emergency was declared for the city of Basra in May of this year. Euronews notes that the Basra state of emergency "has not deterred militants." Omar al-Ibadi and Haider Salahaddin (Reuters) report that today in Basra a car bomb went off (police say ten killed, hospital says five).
Sam Knight (Times of London) reports that "the 5 million inhabitants of the Iraqi capital [were] given just two hours notice of a curfew" (started at 2:00 pm in Baghdad, as Knight notes, but it was set to end at 5:00 pm and not, as Knight reports, on Saturday -- since Knight filed, al-Maliki shortened the curfew). Knight notes the paper's Baghdad correspondent Ned Parker terming the "extended gun battle . . . just north of the fortified Green Zone" a "free-for-all." Along with gunfire and mortars, Reuters reports that two US troops died today "when their vehicle struck a roadside bomb southeast of Baghdad."
In Hibhib, the
Associated Press notes the bombing of a Sunni mosque resulted in at least ten dead and fifteen wounded. Reuters notes two police officers shot to death in Hilla. The AFP reports that five corpses were found in Mishada.
In peace news,
Will Hoover (The Honolulu Advertiser) reports on Ehren Watada's refusal to ship to Iraq when his unit left Fort Lewis, Washington yesterday (6:45 am), he refused to board. Ehren's father Bob Watada tells Hoover of the three officers that spent hours on Wednesday trying to convince Ehren to change his mind: "They put the full-court press on him. They were telling him, 'You know, you're facing 10 to 15 years in jail, and do you want to do all of that?'" The Army issued a statement saying that charges wouldn't be filed "until the commander has had a chance to review all of the facts of the case and consult with the Staff Judge Advocate." Gregg K. Kakesako (Honolulu Star-Bulletin) reports that the gag order placed on Watada has been "rescinded . . . allowing Watada to talk to anyone." As Alex Fryer (Seattle Times) notes, "Peace groups around the nation plan a day of protests and vigils in support of Watada on Tuesday." For more information, click here.
Australia's ABC reports that the Australian government "is playing down reports" of a threat to future trade arrangments with Iraq as a result of Australian troops shooting bodyguards of Abdel Falah al-Sudany (Iraqi Trade Minister) -- one died "at least three others [were] injured." Despite John Howard (prime minister of Australia) continuing to downplay the issue (he won't apologize at present), ABC notes "reports [that] the Iraqi Trade Minister is threatening to ditch all trade deals".
AFP reports that the United States Senate "unanimously approved a $707 billion defence bill for the next financial year that includes almost $70 billion in funding for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan."
In news of future wars,
Col. Dan Smith reports, for CounterPunch, on a little known development from June 20, 2006. As the 2007 Defense Department Appropriations bill was being addressed, Representative Maurice Hinchey attempted to attach the following amendment: "None of the funds made available in this Act may be used to initiate military operations against Iran except in accordance with Article I, Section 8 of the Constitution of the United States." Though the amendment was only underscoring the true powers of the U.S. Congress, it failed on a 215/47 vote. Unlike Michael R. Gordon, war pornographer, and his "Iran Aiding Shiite Attacks Inside Iraq, General Says" (New York Times), the AFP notes of George W. Casey's allegations against Iran: "The White House and Pentagon have repeatedly accused elements in Tehran of arming Iraqi insurgent groups. But they concede they have no clear proof that the Iranian government is sponsoring the activities."

Last night, we had Elaine and the gentleman she's seeing over for dinner and then attended the Iraq study group that my son Mike, his girlfriend Nina and Tony (who's Mike's best friend and my husband and I are Tony's godparents, we grew up with Tony's parents so it seems minimizing to refer to Tony simply as "Mike's best friend) started. That was a wonderful idea on the three's part (Mike, Nina and Tony). Tonight's meeting was at our house and they meet every Friday at nine p.m. It lasted until midnight and that's a bit late for me if I'm at someone else's home. (Because there's still the trip back home.) However, it was more than worth it and I plan on attending future ones as well. The Congress is obviously not going to lead on a discussion about Iraq so it will be up to us. When the three kids (I've been asked by all eight of my children to stop referring to them as "children") came up with the idea, they thought it would be a small group and it's blossomed into a large group. (It was like an extended family get together on a holiday last night and we hauled every folding chair we had out of the closets and still didn't have enough for everyone. A sure sign that people want to discuss this topic.)

I am going to close with some highlights but I want to comment on what Rebecca's "mid-party post" from last night. She had a miscarriage last Saturday and some people (she's responding to an e-mail) seem to think she needs to either explain it in detail or post something downbeat. I only had one miscarriage but that was more than enough. You don't forget that you had it because you can't. I still remember mine. But you do get on with your life and discuss the miscarriage with people you trust. Someone wrote her and seems to think that if she writes about something pleasant in her day, she's avoiding dealing with her miscarriage. A miscarriage isn't like doing your taxes, you can't go months saying, "I'll do it and mail it in when April rolls around." You know it happened. You think about it throughout the day. If someone's unhappy with what she's written, they need to not look to her but ask themselves what is about themselves that makes them so eager to see a woman torn down and grieving. Let Rebecca be Rebecca and worry about your own life.

Somethings worth reading:

"NYT: Striving for tabloid (again)" (I agree with C.I., there's no need to print rumors of beheading that you can't confirm when families are still attempt to find out what happened)
"NYT: What to do when your p.r. is in conflict with facts? Dump the facts! Dexy's back""NYT: Zernike's drive-by taxi ride to nowhere" (Kate Zernike did one drive-by after another all week)
"Repubes: The delicate flowers" (Kat made me laugh with her response to some e-mails from Republicans)
"nancy keenan, rick hertzberg (the useless 1s)" (Rebecca showing on Monday that she's still going to be herself)
"Law and Disorder on tasers" (Mike)
"WBAI's Law and Disorder covered Mumia Abu-Jamal and David Gilbert" (Cedric. I always mean to listen to the radio program Law and Disorder but never find the time. I'm saying "This coming week." I've said it before. If you read Cedric and Mikes' commentaries, you'll join me in feeling you need to make time to listen.)
"White House thumbs its nose at the Supreme Court (Bully Boy Press & Cedric's Big Mix)" (Cedric)
"THIS JUST IN! THE WHITE HOUSE THUMBS ITS NOSE AT THE SUPREME COURT!" (Wally. The two are joint posts that Cedric and Wally did on Friday.)
"THIS JUST IN! PSYCHIC CASEY SAYS "HONEY, THEY SHRUNK THE ARMY!"" (Wally on the laughable General Casey announcing that troops will begin coming home)
"TV Review: There's always a platform for some" (Ava and C.I. with the best thing I read Sunday, in print or online.)
"Army Lies to Mother of Slain Guardsman for Two Years, Says Killed by Insurgents Instead of Allied Iraqi Soldiers" (Powerful story from Democracy Now with Amy Goodman interviewing Nadia McCaffrey who lost her son in Iraq and was lied to by the military)
"Access of Evil" (What's wrong with the corporate media? Amy Goodman tells you.)
"Tears of a Clown: Al Franken's War" (Al Franken is disgusting -- if you agree, you'll enjoy John Walsh's article, I did)