Saturday, April 22, 2006

Cookie Marshmallow Cups in the Kitchen

Cedric just called to say he's almost done with his entry this morning and that C.I.'s holding the main entry at The Common Ills to include Cedric and Kat. He wondered if I might want to blog early so C.I. could note my site as well?

I will because I know C.I. feels like I get lost every weekend. C.I. did note this site later in the week and I ended up with ten e-mails from people who'd never written before so I want to stress that C.I. does note my site. I'm the newest community member with a site and I know C.I. tries to get the word out. I appreciate that but C.I. already gets the word out.

Cedric had two recipes to suggest in case I didn't have one in mind. I was weighing three and trying to narrow it down for tonight but I was happy to grab a suggestion. Cedric's first recipe was ruled out. I won't do strawberry recipes here because I don't use them in my kitchen. They're a wonderful fruit but my husband and three of my children are all allegeric. I have no idea why only three are, genetics, I suppose. But that's mean that we have blueberry shortcake instead of strawberry. I love strawberries and eat them outside the home. I do make a point to wash my hands afterwards because one time, at a picnic, I made the mistake of touching the side of my husband's face and just whatever juice alone was left on my hand (I had wiped with a paper towel) was enough to cause an allergic outbreak on that side of his face. For awhile, I did use frozen strawberries because it was thought that it was just the fresh ones that had a problem for family members with allergies. But I had to rule those out as well when one of the boys, when he was very young, ended up with an all body rash breaking out. So I love strawberries myself, but I won't post recipes with strawberries here since I'm calling the site "Trina's Kitchen" and strawberries never come into my kitchen.

The second recipe is the one I'll go with and when Cedric started dictating the ingredients (this is one his grandmother makes), my youngest daughter (who'd had breakfast not that long ago) was watching me write it down. As soon as I got off the phone, she said I should make it. I would have been fine with taking Cedric's word for it that it was a great recipe and noting here that I'd be making it myself, for the first time, tomorrow but since she was hungry and it was easy to whip up, I went ahead and made a batch. This is another "no cooking required" recipe.
You can use your kitchen to prepare dishes and not use your stoves or oven for those who are still a little nervous.

Cookie Marshmallow Cups
1/2 cup crushed chocolate wafer cookies
4 scoops chocolate ice cream
marshmallow creme
4 cherries

Place 2 teaspoons of cookie crumbs in 4 different cupcake liners. Top with a scoop of ice cream. Fill in around the cream with the remainder of the cookie crumbs and sprinkle some crumbs on top. Cover with foil and freeze until it is time to serve them. Before serving them, add a layer of marshmallow creme and a cherry to each one.

I didn't have chocolate wafers so my daughter grabbed the Oreos and crushed them. Tip: Put them in a freezer bag, zip the bag, then crush them. You could also use chocolate chip cookies or any other cookie you have on hand. I put the cupcake liners into a muffin pan before filling them and that made it easier for me. You could try it either way. I didn't freeze because my daughter was hungry and wanted one "now." But be sure not to put the marshamallow creme or the cherry on top before freezing, they will be frozen and you don't want that.

I'm flipping through the paper (Boston Globe) to figure out what else to write. (I hadn't planned on writing early today.) Yvonne Abraham has an article entitled "Questions of how far US crackdown can go: Analysts dubious on immigrant plan." This is from her article:

As part of the program, announced Thursday by Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff, the agency will dedicate 171 agents of its 2,500 nationwide to investigate and take action against employers who hire undocumented immigrants.
But effectively combating what has become a widespread business practice would require the government to hire thousands of more investigators, to streamline methods for checking workers' legal status, and to show a new willingness to stand up to business interests, the analysts said.
''Nobody has bothered in 20 years to enforce these laws," said Andrew Sum, director of the Center for Labor Market Studies at Northeastern University.
''With the number of monitors they've got," Sum said, ''they can only monitor a tiny fraction of the employers." Nationwide, an estimated 7 million undocumented employees work for hundreds of thousands of firms, Sum said.

While I would prefer to see employers targeted (instead of employees), I do wonder about the whole thing. If an employer isn't paying minimum wage (at the very least) to all workers, he or she is breaking the law. Cracking down on that I have no trouble with.

But I am wondering why the immigration issue continues to be discussed in terms of employment? There are obvious economic policies that result in people leaving their countries of origin. (There are also frequently human rights issues.)

I'm not really sure what employment (if wage and other work place laws are followed) should have to do with it? I know Bill Frist is busy trying to introduce his harm to immigrants bill yet again. But I'm not sure why the focus is on economics?

If immigration is the issue, why do we focus so on employees and employers? Because it's an easy way to track people? Because employers are the ones (the business community) pushing for "reform" that will benefit them?

I just don't grasp the need to make working a crime.

Possibly, it's because if we focus on a job or series of jobs, we're not addressing the true economic factors effecting immigration? The trade policies that hurt so many nations?

I'm hurrying because Cedric called back to say he'd told C.I. he had posted and that I was attempting to put together a post as well.

But where I'm coming from is that I believe we need a more open and more streamlined program for citizenship. I have no problem with a written test. I've helped several friends study for it. The first time, my priest had asked me if I had time to help and I assumed, no problem. I was wrong. And have used that as an example since when helping friends. The problem was, just my being born here and going to school here did not mean I didn't need some help as well. (The answers, in the booklets we use, are in the back.) There were questions I didn't know the answer too. Now I do. And like I tell anyone I help, when you pass this test, you can be proud of yourself for a number of things including that you know more than most people and more than me before I started helping.

I can understand the need for a test to prove that someone has an idea of what the basic principles (and facts -- the number of members in Congress honestly seems useless to me, but maybe I'm missing something). It doesn't make someone a better person to know these things but it will help them grasp how something works. (Though in the case of everyone I've helped, they've been in the country for some time and already grasped how things worked. We mainly worked on memorizing the facts.) Why does that matter?

For the same reason that it matters to all of us, so that we know what our government can and cannot do. So if we're on the receiving end of government abuse, we know that's not supposed to happen. It also matters so that you can pass on the information to others, children, friends, other family members. It matters so that you can grasp how the government works, but, again, everyone I've ever helped has already grasped that before we began studying for the test.

Employment is very basic to life (especially with the destruction of various elements of the social net). I'm really not for targeting employees or employers on the issue of undocumented workers. People need to eat, they need a roof over their heads. I know very kind people who, in the past, would employee someone and look the other way because they knew the necessary documents weren't going to be forthcoming.

Now if an employee in that kind of situation is taken advantage of, there's a problem and that's where government should step in. Work safety laws also should be enforced. But instead, I fear, we're focusing on programs that will penalize employees and employers (and some are good hearted, I'm not talking about corporations -- though I'm sure good people exist in those as well). If you're a church member, you're a church member. I'm not looking for proof of where you were born or proof that you followed every requirement to enter the country. You're here now, you're someone I know and you're someone that has a right to work, to live and to dream.
If I can help you in some way, I should because I know you will do the same for me. That's how things work at my church. For all the 'faith-based' baloney from the Bully Boy, there's nothing church-based in the legislation the press keeps pushing.

What strikes me as ironic is the fact that immediately after 9-11, Bully Boy had a better policy than anything that has been offered. It was more open to immigrants. (Though there was a conern on the part of some in my church that this was really just a way to trick people into showing up to start the citizenship process so that they could be deported, that wasn't the case for anyone from my church. We were really busy then, going over the testing.) Someone down the street or across town may be Joe or Jose, Marie or Maria, but they're your neighbor. They have rights just as such. Maybe not "legal" ones, but societal ones.

Briefly, after 9/11, the process was streamlined. I would favor a return to that and more expanisve ideas as well. One proposed piece of legislation (I think it was the House bill) offered that you register, work X number of years, then you can apply for citizenship. If you think that's valid, my question to you is, "Do you know how long it takes for the citizenship process?"

With the exception of the brief period after 9/11, it's a long process. (Before that temporary policy, we had one church member who was in the third year of the proces.) I think the legislation that the press has pushed punishes people.

Why are we punishing anyone? That's my question. My parents were immigrants, my husband's parents were immigrants (do not trash Ireland to my son Mike, he will explode). If we're suddenly so worried about immigration, let's do the right thing then and turn the issue over to Native Americans. Let's allow them to decide who should be allowed to stay and who shouldn't.

Otherwise, it strikes me as a lot of "I got mine" bluster that helps no one.

I also do not believe that targeting employment (or tying it in) on this issue helps. In the 90s, a church member quit his job (his wife was still working) because INS kept coming by his work and he was sure he was going to be discovered and punished. (He's a citizen now.) That's what will happen with this sort of focus. People trying to put food on the table will end up in even greater fear. Apologies to the almighty Bully Boy, but my religious beliefs come before him or any other elected leader. So, under one proposal, the things I'd done in the past (and will continue to do) with my church would be illegal. (No help, food or anything else, could be offered by individuals, churches or social workers to undocumented immigrants without it being illegal.)
If that became law, I guess I'd be arrested because our home is always open and if we're sitting down to the table when friends arrive, they're invited to sit down as well. I don't ask for "papers" before putting the food on the table and I never will.

C.I. just called saying Cedric had said I was hoping to post this morning, so let me wrap this up. I'll recommend four items from other sites:

Kat's "Both Sides of the Coin -- Ben Harper's Both Sides of The Gun vs. The Living Room Tour""
"My pacificism isn't a cloak I wear some days and others put on war drag"
Cedric's "Law and Disorder addressed PBS and Armenia"

And I recommended it last week before it went up, but please read Ava and C.I.'s "Today, we're all cheerleaders."

Saturday, April 15, 2006

Gazpacho soup in the Kitchen

Explanations. I took last weekend off because our daughter was staying over at a friend's and our son Mike was in California. It's rare that my husband and I find 'just us' moments. I had said before that I wouldn't post every Saturday and last Saturday seemed like a perfect opportunity to take a night off.

I checked the e-mail account and two people expressed disappointment that I'd taken two Saturdays off. I am posting tonight and I e-mailed them to let them know. I'm late posting because I was brought in on a piece for The Third Estate Sunday Review. Not to write it, Ava and C.I. have written it. But it's an epic and they were cutting various sections while Jim was reading the draft they were cutting from. Ava and C.I. write the TV commentaries themselves but, probably due to the interest in this one addressing the criticisms of Katie Couric, everyone had an opinion on what mattered most and what didn't.

I wasn't brought in as a referee but as one more voice offering a perspective. I honestly think the entire thing should go up as is but I do understand that they think it's far too long. There are a lot of points to cover (and they do it wonderfully). It was interesting to see which parts were favorites for whom. I recommend that you check out The Third Estate Sunday Review tomorrow and wait for the concluding paragraph which is one of my favorites in the whole thing. (It's also the one that women were fighting to include but some of the men were saying, "If you lose anything, lose the last paragraph.") (That's noted with permission.)

I offer my little bits and pieces here but I can, at least, take pride in being part of the community and reading Ava and C.I.'s latest TV commentary, I'm very proud to be a part of this community.

Let me do the recipe. Cindy provided this and Wally's mother and I both made it this week to wonderful results. It's spring and, as Cindy wrote, summer will be here shortly. For Cindy, and for many others, summer means gazpacho due to the fact that gardens are sprouting fresh vegetables. Gazpacho is a soup served cold and the perfect soup for a hot day.

46 ounces of tomato juice
1 green bell pepper chopped
1 small white onion chopped
1 small red onion chopped
1 cucmber peeled and chopped
2 green chiles chopped
1 clove of garlic minced
1 table spoon of olive oil
1 table spoon of chopped chives (found in the dried spices section of the supermarket)
3 table spoons of red wine vinegar
1 1/2 a teaspoon of hot pepper sauce or full teaspoon of crushed red pepper
salt (to taste)
pepper (to taste)
2 lemons sliced into wedges (for garnish, may be skipped)

Combine all ingredients with the exception of the garnish (lemon wedges), cucumber and bell pepper. Place this mixture in a blender and use the pulse option repeatedly for two minutes. (Repeatedly, start and then stop. Do not run the pulse option for two minutes without stopping unless you want a very creamy texture.) (If you do not have a blender, combine those ingredients in a large bowl and stir by hand to get a consistent texture.) If using a blender, pour the mixture into a large bowl. Add the cucumber and bell pepper (not the lemon wedges) to the mixture.

Additionally, you can chop two fresh tomatoes. If adding those, add them in the step where you add them in the step where you add the cucumber and bell pepper. Chill in the refrigerator for at least one hour. Let me remind you again that using the freezer for a lesser time will not work.

Serve in bowls and use the lemon wedges as garnish. As with my iced tea, I like to squeeze mine into the bowl before I begin eating the soup.

There is no cooking involved in this recipe which is why Cindy enjoys it. She writes that in August, she lives on it because she can come home from work, fix it, let it chill while she relaxes and then eat it "without ever having to stand over a hot stove."

Wally's mother has been playing with the recipe and has had success adding chopped celery. If you'd like to try that as well, add it the blender (or mixing) stage. Cindy loves gazpacho (try it and you will too) and noted that her mother used to make it two other ways. As she described it, I thought I had the recipes she was talking about. I was right about one and wrong on the other. This gazpacho recipe is from The Joy of Cooking and it's a blender recipe that serves one.

Blender Gazpacho
Blend together 2 or 3 minutes
1/4 cup pared, seeded cucumbers
3/4 cup skinned, seeded tomatoes
1/4 cup condensed consomme or water
1/2 teaspoon chopped red pimento

Add and blend for a short time:
1 teaspoon to 1 tablespoon olive oil

Add but do not blend, as the flavor would be too strong:
1 teaspoon chopped chives
Season to taste
and serve by pouring the broth over 2 ice cubes.
A good garnish is:
Garlic croutons

That recipe will give you one individual serving if you are pressed for time.

All I want to talk about is Ava and C.I.'s commentary. I keep stopping and telling my husband about it. So let me wrap this up quickly for fear of spoiling some surprises in that.

Seth has had some family health issues and took some time off from blogging. However, he is back to blogging and has done three posts this week. So, for anyone who wasn't aware he had returned -- a development I would've noted last week if I'd blogged, visit Seth in the City.

Be sure to read Ruth's Public Radio Report which went up today. I listened to WBAI's Law and Disorder this week and if you haven't had your interest peaked about that program, you're not reading Ruth's reports. One of the guests, it was announced, would be played by Halle Berry in an upcoming film (Venita Gupta was the guest). Maybe that will make you curious to hear what case the lawyer is working on?

My son Mike's "Kendall-Smith sentenced to 8 months & trip to California" describes the trip to California a number of community members made. C.I. has been covering the issue of Dexter Filkins throughout the week (not a new issue for The Common Ills) but the two entries I most enjoyed were "NYT: The Davids, covering Plamegate, long to be Rod Stewart" for the humor (and I'm an old fan of Rod Stewart's) and "And the war drags on . . . (Indymedia Roundup)" which is full of important items. Cedric's "2005's honor (Marian Anderson) v. 2006's shame" is not only strong commentary but also a topic (a new stamp) that I hadn't read or heard of so be sure to read that. Kat's "Music" was one of my husband's favorite posts this week (and he extends an open invite to Kat to visit any time and discuss and listen to music). Betty will make you laugh with "My 'caring' husband Thomas Friedman worries I don't have time to appreciate his 'genius'" and Wally's mother picked his "THIS JUST IN! BULLY BOY GOT SOME HARD LEARNING DISABILITIES!" as her personal favorite this week. Rebecca's "flashpoints and indymedia" is a long commentary covering a number of issues. I wanted to highlight a piece by Elaine but she's going to add to it and asked me not to since she hasn't been able to. I'll grab it next week. "'What I Didn't Find In Iraq' by Bully Boy" was published last Sunday but, if you missed it, please check that out as well.

Saturday, April 01, 2006

Tortilla Soup in the Kitchen

Tonight, the recipe is for a soup because most of the e-mails were requesting one. A soup can help stretch out a meal so you can serve this with the other Mexican dishes or you can serve it alone.

Tortilla Soup
3 cans of chicken broth
1 can of water
1 cup of cooked, cubed chicken

3 zuchinnis, sliced in rounds
1 white onion, chopped
1 package of frozen corn kernals or 2 cans of corn (drained)
1 can of of Ro-Tel diced tomatoes & green chiles OR up that to the entire can if you like your chicken tortilla soup tomato-ie.
1 ounce of shredded cheese of choice

1 bag of tortilla chips
3 avocados, sliced
a dash of salt (sea salt preferred but not required)
a dash of chili powder
1 fresh lime (optional)
chopped cilantro (optional)

Cook the chicken breasts by baking, frying or boiling. If you boil, boil them in water and use the water for the soup. After they have cooked, dice them into small cubes or you can pull the meat loose (small pieces) and have a different texture to the soup. Once they are cooked add them (and the water you boiled them in, if you boiled them) to a large pot. Add chicken broth and water and heat. Add zuchinni, Ro-tel (or other canned tomato product with chilis), onion, corn, cilantro and salt. Cover and simmer for ten minutes. Remove cover and add the chili powder. Squeeze the juice from 1 fresh lime into the soup pot. Cover and simmer an additional ten minutes. Spoon/ladle into bowls. Add tortilla chips (strips preferred) to the bowls, as well as 1 or 2 slices of avocado, and top with cheese.

Rebecca provided this recipe and we'll all be sampling it shortly. Rebecca said it was an easy version of the recipe and it certainly smells wonderful. Those watching their sodium count (or interested in watching it) should be sure to use low sodium broth. Rebecca, her ex-husband and Elaine are staying with us this weekend. (Rebecca and her ex treated us all to a play last night which was very kind of them.) So it's been a fun weekend of conversations, food, music and more. I think my husband has enjoyed selecting CDs with Elaine more than anything else. He'd asked her to pack some CDs and between those and his own large collection, there's been plenty of music. Right now, the Cowboy Junkies' Early 21st Century Blues is filling the house. My husband loves music and it's a huge treat for him to have someone here who loves music as much as he does.

I enjoy music, even love it, but not to the degree that my husband or Elaine does. I'm the sort of person who really needs to read a little before she goes to bed. That's just part of my routine, so I've always got a book on the end table by the bed. My husband is probably the same way with music which is something I've only grasped this weekend, after years of marriage.

Before the kids were born, and while the first few were little, music was played like this, I'm remembering, but it's only in the last few years that he's begun playing his music again the way he used to. Which does include "blasting it" and probably he avoided that when all the kids were living at home out of some fear of battling music blasts. He and Mike can both sit for hours in the living room and talk while they listen to music or just sit there silent listening to music. With Mike, it's more of a father exposing his son to music he enjoys. Mike will, however, bring his own CDs, especially the White Stripes, and play them as well. But with Elaine, he's found someone who can match him song for song, trivia for trivia. It's like Musical Jeopardy in there. He's even started pulling out his vinyl collection. And he is as obsessive about his vinyl collection as the character in Diner who gripes at Ellen Barkin for putting the vinyl back out of order. (Which is why I've always avoided his vinyl collection. Our oldest daughter, Kelley, and Mike have been our only children brave enough to explore the vinyl more than once and continue exploring it.)

I'm disappointed in the way the discussion of censuring the Bully Boy went yesterday (little courage in the Senate shouldn't surprise me at this late date but it can still disappoint me). I have also been disappointed in the way some of the mainstream press has echoed the attacks on Jill Carroll, the independent journalist who was kidnapped in Iraq and freed this week. Elaine's "The first principle of non-violent action is that of non-cooperation" and C.I.'s "Other Items (Noam Chomsky on Democracy Now! today)" and "NYT: Edward Wong tells you that questions about Carroll were raised by a video (as opposed to, say, the press?)" are must reads for that topic. Also worth reading, to restore your sanity with laughter, are Wally's "THIS JUST IN! CONDI SLAMS BULLY!" and Betty's "Thomas Friedman's Frostings and Facials" -- be prepared to laugh with both.