Wednesday, March 20, 2013


19 years ago, I went to Africa for the first time. I saw elephants in the wild. We saw them from a jeep a few different times, but the most memorable time was seeing one while walking out in the bush. Our guide brought me and one or two others with him -- only people he deemed interested and agile enough to bring along. We tracked a young bull for a little while, and then saw him, incredibly close. It was the most amazing sight.

We saw a herd of females with their young, the mothers and aunts turning outward from the circle to protect the babies. Elephants are majestic creatures, matriarchs, and wondrous. That is why I'm crying today.

This morning I read a New York Times op-ed piece from Sunday's paper. It was about the poaching of elephants for their ivory tusks. An illegal activity, but done in great numbers nonetheless because of people in Asia willing to pay a lot for the ivory.

What's so incredibly disturbing and sad is that elephants are being killed right and left for their tusks. I am not sure why one can't tranquilize an elephant and saw off a little piece of tusk. Not that this would be great either, but it would save the elephant.

Between 2002 and 2011, 62 percent of the African elephant population was slaughtered. That's MORE THAN HALF. GONE. FOR GOOD. FOREVER. I was stunned when I read this statistic.

A year ago, during a trip my parents took us on to the Caribbean, I convinced my then five year old daughter to try snorkeling. She was a bit timid about it, but I persuaded her because I wanted her to see what I had seen the last time I was in the Caribbean as a teenager: the beautiful underwater world of coral and tropical fish. She had only seen it in "Nemo." I had seen the real-life version. But then we discovered something: it was all gone. The coral was gone. What coral remained was gray and lifeless as a rock. There were barely any fish. The most colorful fish we saw were in photographs on a museum wall. I was stunned. The Caribbean I remembered was GONE. Obliterated. So polluted by rising sea temperatures and chemicals dumped in the ocean that it was dead.

I didn't get to show my daughter real-life undersea treasures.

I do want to be able to show her real-life elephants.

What perhaps shocks and saddens me most is that people don't seem to care. People seem to care far more about other things -- like money -- than about taking care of, literally, our world. It honestly just baffles my mind. If you don't take care of our world, it won't be here. It will be GONE. FOREVER. Think about what your children will face when they are our age. Do you really want your children to just have to look at photographs of elephants on a museum wall? Photographs of forests? Photographs of clean air?

Take action now. If you don't want to give money, at least sign the petition at
That's the International Fund for Animal Welfare.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Supersized!! (without asking)

Supersized!! I had to quit coffee almost ten years ago. It rips up my stomach and makes me all jittery all day. I still love the smell of coffee, and I love holding that warm cup of hot yumminess, but largely, I abstain from caffeine.

However, once in a while, when I'm extra tired and sleepy, I give in. I make sure to order half-decaf, and I order the smallest amount possible. (Otherwise, I will just drink it all up! Much to my body's detriment.)

 This was one of those days. I had two hours of highway driving to do, and I was zoning -- not good. So I went to get a latte this morning at Whole Foods (which uses Allegro coffee and cafe). The smallest size listed on the chalkboard was 12 oz.

I asked if I could get anything smaller than a 12 oz, and I was told by the barista, "I have been told by Allegro that I'm not allowed to make an 8 oz. or anything smaller than a 12 oz."

 Crickets. Not ALLOWED?? What the hell? That is just so weird.

 So I said, persuasively, "If you make a 12 oz, I'll just throw the rest out." I was doing my best to appeal to her Whole-Foodsy sense of no wasting.

 She said "I'll make you one this time, and I know it's really weird, but generally I'm not allowed to."

 I asked, "Why not?"

 "Corporate says that there is a 'lack of quality control.' I don't know why; I've been making 8 oz drinks for four years. But one time I got in trouble for making an 8 oz. What kind of milk do you want?"

 "Oh. Um, whatever you're holding is great."

 "Yeah, if you could go online and give them some feedback, that would be awesome. It's really silly."
She handed me a lovely latte.

 I agreed, saying, "Yeah, back in the old days, this was a normal small. I just can't drink that much coffee."

 "I know. It's ridiculous."

 Yes, barista, it is. We live in a world that not only asks if you want things Supersized, but a world where things are supersized without us asking.

Corporations literally force people to accept a smallest size of 12 oz. in a coffee shop. When we go on road trips, and my husband emerges from the gas station store with his requisite diet soda, we laugh at its enormity. And then he tells me it's a "small."

 I just picture our world, a century hence, as the blobs in Wall-E. And that's not so funny.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Is it worth it?

"Is it worth it?" ask The Pet Shop Boys.

Valid question.
As I veer ever more into the world of creating my own things from scratch - the world of my forebears, this question comes to mind. Well, really it came to mind as those damn jam globules were laughing at me from the otherwise beautiful pot of strawberries! Swearing, I thought, "Why the hell am I doing this instead of buying jam from the store?" That store jam - if you get a decent kind at least - is pretty good!

Other "old-world" techniques I have learned in the past few years:
• how to bake bread (without a bread machine)
• how to knit (nothing fancy, but a scarf and two sweaters for my daughter; a baby hat for a friend)
• how to can peaches and tomatoes
• how to make jam

So... is it worth it? Adding in the time, the money (yarn, pectin, and jars aren't free), the energy, the fun, putting it all together. Is it worth it?

Answers to come in the coming days! What are your answers?

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Jam Results!

I couldn't wait to open one of those magenta, burgundy jam jars. They looked so pretty! Now was the time to see...

We got back from our trip to the mountains, and I pried open one of the lids with a spoon. I tentatively dipped the spoon in. And, Yum! Delicious jam. NO Globules! Hooray! My husband's vigorous stirring saved the day. Very good strawberry jam. Can't wait for the morning to slather it on my toast, where it belongs.

Canning, Jam, and Globules

Friday afternoon I canned three pints of tomatoes from my own garden. Having canned eight pints of peaches a few weeks before, the tomato-canning went quite easily and smoothly. Easier than the peaches - at least in prep work!

And then I went to work on the jam. Took Nora to Berry Patch Farms in Brighton Friday morning with another mom friend and her child - super fun! I highly recommend a farm visit whenever/wherever possible. We (well, let's be honest, I picked all the strawberries except about 15 that Nora picked!) picked just over 4 quarts of strawberries (that's four of those bigger baskets like you see in the store). We were leaving for the mountains the next day, so I knew that what we didn't eat, I would need to preserve, and pronto. So: my next venture: jam.

How hard could it be to make jam? I taught myself how to can; I could teach myself how to make jam. I looked at recipes. It seemed easier than canning! So I decided to go for it.
Again, most of the work is in the prep: hulling the strawberries. But you can get into a kind-of Zen state doing that, so it's all good.

NOTE: If you ever make jam, make sure you STIR VIGOROUSLY when the recipe says STIR VIGOROUSLY!! Lesson learned. I sprinkled the pectin in and stirred. Clearly not well enough. I looked down in panic as, almost immediately, these little white-ish globules formed -- like the kind you get in pancake batter when the flour forms little balls, that, if you don't break them up and if you cook them into the pancake, become little balls of pure flour that when you bite into them create quite an unpleasant sensation. CLEARLY no one wants that in their jam! Biting into globules of pectin, Yuck! So I picked some out, to make sure that was indeed what I was looking at, and not some white-ish part of a strawberry. The globule was in the spoon. I poked at it. Then again. And again. These were tough globules - almost plastic-like in their nature. Finally, I got it open, and uh-oh, it was filled with powdery pectin. Oh no!

So I called the emergency hotline: my mom. Doesn't everyone have some sort of cooking/crisis emergency hotline? And how often is that hotline one's mother?! She said: Stir Vigorously. A lot. It should sort itself out.

So I enlisted help: my husband. He stirred very vigorously as I added the sugar and as the hopefully-soon-to-be jam formed. We did our best. Into the jars it went. It looked pretty! Boiled in hot water for 10 minutes, and onto the cooling racks.

We left for the mountains before I could taste it, but I sure hope it is globule-free!
Stay tuned for results...

Thursday, August 26, 2010


Had great fun last night with five mom friends making pie! So fun to get together with a group, snacks, and wine, and make pie and chat all together. It's just so easy to make and super fun. One person asked if I've ever had store-bought pie crust. No, I haven't. It takes me under ten minutes to make this pie crust, and I know what all the ingredients are. So I haven't seen a need. Just a need for this recipe!

Pie Crust
This is for bottom and top. If you want just the bottom (like for pumpkin pie), halve this recipe.

2 cups flour
2/3 cup margarine or butter
1 tsp. salt
almost 6 tbls. ice water

Filling: ~ 5 cups fruit, ~3/4 cup sugar, ~1/8 tsp. salt, flour
Adjust according to sweetness, acidity, and juiciness of fruit.

350 F for ~ 1 hour - middle to lower rack

Friday, August 20, 2010

Summer-only Salsa!

I make this salsa as often as humanly possible in the summer because you just can't replicate it at any other time of year. It demands fresh, in-season corn and fresh, in-season tomatoes. I will say that I cheat a little; here in Colorado we start getting corn at least a month before local tomatoes are ready, so I will make it with California tomatoes just because it's hard to wait. But once the local tomatoes arrive? Shazam! It is AMAZING. Best are tomatoes fresh from your own garden picked the day you make the salsa.

I got the recipe from my mother. Sometimes that's where the best recipes come from, right?
Here you go:

3 ears corn, cooked and kernels cut off cobs
2 tomatoes, chopped
1/2 cup finely chopped red onion
1-2 fresh jalapeƱos peppers, seeded and minced
1/2 cup loosely packed, chopped, fresh cilantro or parsley
2 tbsp lime juice
2 tbsp olive oil
salt to taste
Mix all and let stand at least 30 minutes.

Of course, like any other recipe, change it how you like it! I use about 1/4 of one jalapeƱo and less than 1/2 an onion. I prefer parsley to cilantro, and I love lime juice. Today I made it with only 2 ears of corn to get a more tomato-y salsa just because I had a ripe tomato from my garden that I wanted to taste really well!

Serve as an appetizer with a delicious light white wine and good chips. Yummy! Maybe you won't even want dinner?!