Saturday, April 21, 2007

Make your own kind of salad in the Kitchen

We're doing a different recipe this week. A woman named Heather wrote on Tuesday and we exchanged e-mails throughout the week. She has a son and a daughter, both early teens, one year apart. The kids are microwavers. That doesn't have to be a bad thing, ask any busy parent. But they tend to go with pizza and Hot Pockets.

Heather wanted to get more fruits and vegetables in their diet. Her answer wasn't working. On Sundays, she was making a big salad and putting it in the fridge with the instruction that they had to have some throughout the week. She expected the salad to be gone by the end of the week but, in the two weeks she had tried this, it had not happened. She gave up last Sunday and started seeking advice.

She turned to me on Tuesday so I'll assume she exhausted all possible lines before then.

Heather was chopping up some tomatoes and a head of lettuce, putting it into a bowl and calling that a salad. She noted that her daughter didn't care for tomatoes.

My first question to her was, "Do you have the money to waste on food that's going to be tossed out?"

I love tomatoes. They're a fruit I can eat by themselves or in any number of dishes and I love to drink tomato juice. But if you know someone's not going to eat it, you're only buying it if you've got money to burn.

For her daughter, the apparent expectation was that she would pick around the tomatoes, grab the iceberg lettuce and call that a salad.

It wasn't working.

There was a mini-Cass Elliot revival awhile back so, even if you're young, you may know Cass' song "Make Your Own Kind of Music." When it comes to salad, use the song as your cookbook and "Make Your Own Kind of Salad."

I don't hate iceberg lettuce but it's nothing I rush to have. For many, though not all, we now have various lettuces in our local grocery stores and/or fresh markets. It's also true that you can use spinach by itself or with a lettuce.

Your salad should be what you want it to be. My husband wasn't big on salad unless it was Chef's Salad -- which came with ham and boiled egg. He'll eat more than that today but if you have someone who has to have meat, then you need to consider ham, chicken and bacon. (I know a cooked Greek salad that uses beef but I'm talking about a salad that you just whip up.)

His big complaint, echoed by my second oldest child, was that he liked to eat "crunchy" things. (We haven't had a jar of smooth peanut butter in our home in years.) So radishes is something you might want to consider if you have a "crunchy" lover in your home.

You might also want to consider seeds and nuts. I make big salads on Sundays because most (sometimes all) of our children are over. In those salads, I have walnuts and sunflower seed kernals. Remember allergies and plan accordingly, but nuts and seeds are wonderful in salads.

Tomatoes are fruits. In Heather's case, her daughter wasn't going to touch them. There are many other fruits. I always toss in dried cranberries on Sunday. You can also consider using cherries or mandarin orange slices.

There are any number of ingredients you can use.

I would also recommend that you have a variety of salad dressings. There are times when I'll just squeeze a lemon or lime on my own bowl of salad. Sometimes I want Italian or French, Catalina or Blue Cheese. Elaine loves Green Goddess so we usually keep that in the house now. But let's say you're trying to get your kids or yourself (or both) to eat healthier. If you're thinking iceberg lettuce, tomatoes and Ranch or whatever dressing for the rest of the year, you're going to get sick of the idea of the salad long before you burn out on the taste.

Here's the recipe Heather's now using to great success:

1 head of romaine lettuce, chopped
1 bunch of spinach, chopped
4 ounces of dried cranberries
1 package of walnuts*
1 green bell pepper chopped
1 bunch of radishes sliced

*The package of walnuts are single serving size. You can buy a package on most candy aisles in the grocery store and on the baking aisle in the grocery store as well. They're basically the same size. If you're on the baking aisle, get pieces. If you get them from the candy aisle, smash them up (in the bag) before you put them in the salad.

Heather was thinking a vegetable (iceberg lettuce) and a fruit (tomato) was as much as she could hope for. What's happened instead is that they're getting several vegetables and cranberries for fruit.

She used a Mom trick she's used before (I wish I'd thought of it) which was: After fixing the salad Wednesday, she told her kids it was in the fridge and they could have "a little" but she really "made it for myself, so don't eat it all." I don't know if it's a get-back-at-Mom response or just the assumption that if Mom's making it for herself it must be better than what she makes for the rest of us, but it worked. They tried it. She didn't. She was busy and forgot all about the salad until late Friday night. She went to the fridge and took out the bowl. When she removed the cover, she saw a few pieces of lettuce and spinach and not much else.

Both of her kids have said they "could" eat that. Which means they will.

A salad is whatever you want it to be. It can also be whatever's on hand. I always have a head of some type of lettuce in the fridge and, if nothing else, some walnuts and/or almonds in the cabinet (for baking). When you're actually planning to make a salad, your own limitation is you.
I think we're all used to the "house salad" at most places and that's generally nothing but iceberg lettuce and tomatoes. Maybe that's where we get the idea that it and only it actually qualifies for a salad?

Do you like green onions? Red onions? White onions? Yellow onions? Any one of those or a combination can jazz up a salad.

If you don't normally make your own salad, you need to remember to wash the ingredients. That means running water over them at a minimum. (I generally stick to the minimum. I do have a friend who insists upon hot water and a food brush.) After that, you do not begin cutting.
If you do, you'll have a watery salad. You need to let them drain. I usually use the collander for lettuce.

So just have fun with it and remember that it can include whatever you want. Carrots, olives, mushrooms, cheese, etc. Make your own kind of salad.

Now let's talk about Dennis Kucinich. I'm going to highlight an issue. This, in full, is his discussing the issue of Media Reform and before we get to him, let's talk media reform. If your my age (or older) you can probably remember your city or town having its own unique character. Papers for your areas, radio stations and TV stations addressed concerns and interests that effected you. Then, one day, you travel and realize that it's not just McDonalds that's spread across the country. Junk food and junk media have taken over. Let's take Texas because I really did enjoy the week there. I heard over and over about the death of radio. It didn't matter if I was in Dallas or Smith County (where most, but not all, radio stations tend to come out of either Dallas or Tyler). Younger people were very descript about how there was nothing to listen to. People my age and older could remember when they actually had something worth listening to.

As late as the early 80s, for instance, people in Dallas felt that KZEW, Q102 and K104 were worth listening to. (I hope I got the call letters correct. The first two were album rock stations, the third was a soul station.) The first two vanished. Clear Channel bought up at least one. It became a "hits" station which Dallas already had. (The complaint about K104 was that the songs had gotten so trasy they couldn't listen. I would ask if it changed ownership and no one seemed to know.) KZEW and Q102 were around for years and years. People had grown up listening to album cuts (as opposed to singles). Today? They can grab classic rock but there's really nowhere to go for what they had learned to enjoy.

Did Dallas decide, "Hey, I don't want that anymore?" No. But when local radio goes out, corporations make the calls on the stations they own. They're programming isn't going to be geared to an area. The dee jays may not even be speaking from the area. (There's a right-winger the New York Times wrote about recently who hosts an Arizona talk show. He notes traffic and radio during his show which comes out of California.)

McDonalds isn't interesting in making the burgers a region grew up on, they're interested in making the exact same burger, regardless of where they are located. It's the same with media.

As local ownership falls away, you get less local voices and less representation of your community. I believe NBC owns Telemundo. If that's correct, Telemundo owns and/or broadcasts on stations around the country but they're now going to be dropping local news in many regions. They say it's too expensive. It's better to consolidate the news in certain regions. Better for whom?

Decisions are being made that effect what we hear and the information we get. Clear Channel is now trying desperately to get out of the radio business. I would too if I had their image. But they've managed to control what gets played and what doesn't nationally and, in the process, control what we can hear and what we can imagine. I don't blame children for thinking Britney Spears or Justin Timberlake is "neat" or whatever. But Clear Channel wanted to give listeners kiddie music long after the listeners were no longer kiddies.

Kat's called them the Disney Kids and that's a wonderful comparison. They existed before, the Bobby Darins, the Archies, the Monkees, etc. But kids would listen to them and benefit from them before moving on to stronger music. The lifespan of bubble gum music used to be much shorter because when the audiences grew up, it was dead. The Disney Kids have hung around for almost a decade now and not because they've matured but because they're easy to program. They're not going to challenge the way a Jackson Browne or a Joni Mitchell would. They're fun little acts, singing fun little songs, about fun little, tiny topics.

I look at Justin Timberlake and can understand why little kids (girls and boys) might have crushes on him. He's pretty. He can dance. It's the sort of thing that would have had me scribbling "Trina Timberlake" in the margins of my spiral during 7th grade English class. But adults? Look who he is ripping off or imitating -- Michael Jackson. Do you get more bubble gum than that? Prince, Bootsy Collins, any number of acts he could rip off and he's stuck trying to remake Thriller.

I'm not trying to trash Michael Jackson who sang little songs and danced well. I think it's great that society has advanced so much that Justin Timberlake doesn't have to face the questions about his sexuality because he's a dancer. I can remember what felt like a witch hunt over the disco acts. But at some point, don't they sugar out on all the candy? Don't they want something more than "P.Y.T."? Don't they cry for a "Sign of the Times" or something with a little more emotional backing?

So that's one way it effects your life. I will assume that most readers are aware that consolidating media allowed a silencing of dissent in the lead up to the war. But I wanted to bring it to an even more personal area because I think, if you listen to music, we take our music very personally.

So with all that said, here is Dennis Kucinich's statements on media reform:

I am working for serious media reform, including substantial free air time for candidates and parties. Given the high cost of campaigns, the power of corporate special interests, and the fact that the networks are given free use of the public's airwaves, I believe that the networks should be required to give something back other than "reality" shows.

Media conglomerates are currently among the most powerful lobbyists against media reform, but I believe that were the media to provide substantive coverage of politics it would actually boost both media ratings and voter turnout.

In addition to requiring free air time for political campaigns, we need to create a greater diversity of viewpoints in the media by breaking up the major media conglomerates, encouraging competition and quality as well as diversity. We should place new caps on media ownership and ban the granting of exceptions to those caps. We should limit the number of media outlets one corporation can own in a given medium, such as radio, print, or television. We should strictly prohibit cross-ownership and vertical integration.

I believe the people should be involved in the maintenance of their airwaves, creating public media outlets controlled by community boards similar to the model of Pacifica Radio. Funding for public broadcasting channels on television and radio should be greatly expanded, assuring the existence of media outlets free of the influence of advertisers.

I aim to promote knowledge of the public process through which citizens can challenge the licenses of local broadcast outlets failing to provide local coverage and coverage directed at the whole community, or outlets airing excessive violence.

Not-for-profit groups should be allowed to obtain low-power FM radio-station licenses. The development of new, community-based, noncommercial broadcasting outlets should be encouraged.

The United States must withdraw from the World Trade Organization; media companies are currently lobbying the WTO for the creation of trade sanctions against countries that fund public broadcasting, limit foreign ownership of media, or establish standards for local content. For similar reasons, we must block U.S. participation in the proposed Free Trade Area of the Americas.

I have a strong record on media reform. I filed formal objections with the FCC to their deregulation of the media. I held hearings on Capitol Hill on what the media weren't telling people about the war.

I hold a Bachelor's and a Master's degree in speech and communications from Case Western Reserve University, and have been honored by Case Western Reserve as being one of the top 50 students in that program in the last 50 years.

My past experience includes working as a copy boy for the Cleveland Plain Dealer and a copyreader at the Wall Street Journal. I have hosted my own radio shows, done on-camera television reports for Channel 8 in Cleveland, and had my own TV production unit, and I carry a card as a member of the IATSE, the cameraman's union.

Another issue of media consolidation occurs to me as I read his credits. Though they always promise, during their buy ups, that the mergers will result in more news, more resources, the layoffs always follow. If you're a parent, grasp that consolidation means less jobs and think about the economic world your children are going to face.

Please read Betty's latest chapter, "Friedman takes a trip." Also, in light of the mockery the Supreme Court made of reproductive rights this week, please read Martha Mendoza's "Between a Woman and her Doctor" (Ms. magazine). Now here's C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot" for Friday:

Friday, April 20, 2007. Chaos and violence continue, the US military announces the death of another service member, "development" passes for an answer in Baghdad ("Time-shares" is next), Helga Aguayo explains the status of her husband (war resister Agustin Aguayo), and Bobby Gates finally gets to act out his long held dream to be Marisa Tomei.

"The investigating officer said that it was in the best interest of the military to discharge him and that he believed that Agustin was sincere. However, higher ups in the chain of command -- that never met with my husband -- decided that he wasn't sincere and just didn't really give a reason, just said that he didn't qualify as a conscienious objector,"
Helga Aguayo speaking to Amy Goodman (Democracy Now!) today. Helga Aguayo sketched out
how her husband came to see the illegal war as immoral while serving in Iraq, how he attempted to receive CO status, the obstacles there and a great deal more including the the convictions of missing movement and desertion. On the latter, she noted that it "is unheard of for people that are gone less than thirty days -- soldiers that are gone less than thirty days." Aguayo was gone from
September 2nd through September 26th. The rule of thumb is that if you are gone less than 30 days, desertion isn't even a possible charge. Not only was Aguayo gone less than 30, he turned himself in. Helga Aguayo explained how the two felony convictions mean trigger an automatic appeal:

Helga Aguayo: And the other thing is that Agustin will not be discharged. I'm getting congratulations -- 'Oh, congratulations, he's coming home' -- we don't know when he's coming home, one. And, two, he actually will not be discharged from the military for twelve to twenty-four months from now, because he got a bad-conduct discharge and it's such a serious offense. He has two felonies. It goes onto an automatic appeal, and because of that, he will remain active-duty, which means he has to abide by the standards that is required of every soldier. He could potentially be charged with anything else during the time that he's on voluntary or involuntary leave or administrative leave. They'll give him of the three, if it's approved. And we won't know if it's approved.

Amy Goodman: Could he sent back to Iraq?

Helga Aguayo: I hope not. I don't think so. I think it would be -- I mean, Agustin's gotten a lot of support. And I, you know, would definitely just go to the press and go to the people. I don't think it would be in their best interest to do that.

Agustin Aguayo's repeated attempts to receive CO status demonstrate the need for the system to be fixed. As does the case of Robert Zabala who had to take the issue to the civilian courts to be awarded his status. The two, and many others, illustrate the problems with and arbitrary nature of the way the US military chooses to recognize (or not) CO status.
This is why the
Center on Conscience & War has declared May 14th the day to lobby Congress to pass a law that would "protect the rights of conscientious objectors".

Aguayo is part of a movement of war resistance within the military that also includes
Ehren Watada, Dean Walcott, Linjamin Mull, Justin Colby, Marc Train, Camilo Mejia, Robert Zabala, Darrell Anderson, Kyle Snyder , Corey Glass, Jeremy Hinzman, Joshua Key, Mark Wilkerson, Camilo Mejia, Patrick Hart, Ricky Clousing, Ivan Brobeck, Aidan Delgado, Pablo Paredes, Carl Webb, Jeremy Hinzman, Stephen Funk, David Sanders, Dan Felushko, Brandon Hughey, Clifford Cornell, Joshua Despain, Katherine Jashinski, Chris Teske, Matt Lowell, Jimmy Massey, Tim Richard, Hart Viges, Michael Blake and Kevin Benderman. In total, thirty-eight US war resisters in Canada have applied for asylum.

Information on war resistance within the military can be found at
Center on Conscience & War, The Objector, The G.I. Rights Hotline, and the War Resisters Support Campaign. Courage to Resist offers information on all public war resisters.

Turning to news in Iraq, US Secretary of Defense Robert Gates landed in Baghdad Thursday to provide war weary Iraqis and US service members with a bus and truck show of My Cousin Vinnie.
David S. Cloud, Alissa J. Rubin and Edward Wong (New York Times) report that he visited "to press Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki of Iraq to move faster on Sunni-Shiite reconciliation at a momment when Mr. Maliki's ability to deliver appears limited, at best." This allowed Bobby Gates to attack the part of Lisa with vigor as he stomped his feet in the safety of the Green Zone.

Bobby Gates: Well I hate to bring it up because I know you've got enough pressure on you already. But, we agreed to get an oil law passed as soon as we installed you. Meanwhile, ELEVEN MONTHS LATER, no oil law, Iran is making us nervous and our bully clock is TICKING and the way this war is going, I ain't never going to see the theft of Iraqi oil.

While Gates was telling/ordering al-Maliki to step it up,
Nancy A. Youssef (McClatchy Newspapers) reported that it really doesn't make a great deal of difference: "Military planners have abandoned the idea that standing up Iraqi troops will enable American soldiers to start coming home soon and now believe that U.S. troops will have to defeat the insurgents and secure control of troubled provinces. Training Iraqi troops, which had been the cornerstone of the Bush administration's Iraq policy since 2005, had dropped in priority, officials in Baghdad and Washington said."

As most play mum on that revelation,
Mark Tran (Guardian of London) notes, "Washington today said it would take political reconciliation in Iraq into account when it decides this summer whether to reduce troop numbers." Translation? There will be no real reduction unless the people insist upon it. Just more stalling tactics on the part of the US installed puppet and more bluster from the bullies of the US administration. Meanwhile, the government of Turkey has set a deadline. KUNA reports that Turkey now has: "a 'specific timetable' for trans-borders operations including intrusions into northern Iraqi, Turkish NTV news website reported Friday. . . . The plan, envising the intrusion of thousands of Turkish troops into northern Iraqi areas to hunt rebel Kurds, is about to be a reality, according to the report."

Meanwhile in "New Listings" news, need a getaway? How about some place just east of a river, a gated community with rustic charm?
CBS and AP report that gated communities are coming to Baghdad in the form of "a three mile wall": "When the wall is finished, the minority Sunni community or Azamiyah, on the eastern side of the Tigris River, will be gated, and traffic control points manned by Iraqi soldiers will be the only entries, the military said."

Gated communities? And people think the US administration has no ideas in the tank.
While the US administration continues their attempts at stand up,
Tom Clifford (CounterPunch) notes the very real increase in Iraqi deaths including that last month was the deadliest in the last 12 months and that the escalation has claimed at least 7,400 reported deaths. And in some of the reported violence today in Iraq . . .


AFP reports a Nasiriyah bombing that killed 4 "including an 11-year-old girl". Reuters reports an eastern Baghdad mortar attack the killed 1 person and left 4 injured as well as a truck bombing in Falluja that killed 2 people and left 37 wounded. Lebanon's Daily Star reports that gunfire and helicopter fire were used around a mosque as US forces attacked what they hope are 'guilty' people since they killed four -- however, they originally denied the deaths and the attack only to correct that later on..


Reuters notes two police officers shot dead in Baquba and eight wounded, 1 person was shot dead in Falluja (2 more injured), and 1 person shot dead in Kufa. Laith Hammoudi (McClatchy Newspapers) reports: "Employees working for the North Oil Company were targeted in Kirkuk by gunmen yesterday evening. The gunmen attacked the employees' while they were coming to Baghdad, the incident took place on Karkuk-Baghdad motorway when the insurgents opened fire injuring 4 employees."


Laith Hammoudi (McClatchy Newspapers) reports 19 corpses discovered in Baghdad on Friday.

In addition, the
US military announced today: "A Task Force Marne Soldier was killed and two were wounded when a rocket struck Forward Operating Base Mahmudiyah Thursday night."

And in news of activism,
Glen Ford (Black Agenda Report) notes the national Make Hip Hop, Not War tour which attempts to welcome important segments that have otherwise been overlooked. Ford writes: "The 'Make Hip Hop, Not War' movement finds only lip-service support from the white-dominated anti-war 'movement,' which finds itself unable to include the most anti-war segment of the American public: Black people. Rosa Clemente, of Pacifica's New York radio station WBAI and a founded of the National Hip Hop Political Convention, says, 'This is why the anti-war movement is not working. How are you going to have an anti-war movement that marginalizes Black people?'"