Tuesday, January 19, 2010


So I am SO tired of the same old same old in terms of menu items. So I have decided to branch out. Enter: Besan - chick pea flour...

I have used it to coat pork chops or chicken before pan frying. Yummy. Just toss some besan in a zip lock bag - add herbs/spices du jour - shake. So easy.

Tonight I made somamos (you know those Indian savories - with veggies and potatoes tucked inside. I had no recipe - I just made it up.)

I package - ArrowHead Mills Gluten Free Pizza crust mix
1 c. besan

5-7 small yellow fingerling potatoes (cubed - small)
half a bag of carrot match sticks (chopped)
1 medium yellow onion, chopped fine

1-2 tsp garam masala
1-2 tsp curry powder mild
2 generous pinches of red pepper flakes
Some olive oil for the pan

Make the crust following the boxes directions - adding in 1/4 c besan.

Meanwhile (while the dough rises) add olive oil and onions to a sauce pan over medium heat. Cook a few minutes. Add in potatoes and carrots. Cook for about 5-6 minutes or until tenders. Toss in spices and cook a few minutes more. Remove from heat.

Using a plastic board or wax paper - dust generously with besan. Coat hands also. DO NOT ROLL THIS DOUGH _ IT WILL BE A STICKY MESS) Instead pull off balls of dough about the size of the palm of your hand, coat with besan and flatten into circles. (like a mini pie size or size of a desert plate.)

Fill with a spoonful of the filling, fold dough over and press to seal. Place on a cookie sheet - covered in parchment or cooking spray.

Bake at 375 for 20 minutes or so.

Apricot Chutney (ok so I totally made this one up...)

1 medium onion, 1 green chili or small pepper of your choice, 2 tsp cumin, salt to taste, lime juice to taste and about three spoons full of apricot preserves (I admit - I just dumped it in)

Finely chop the onion and chili. Saute in oil until soft. Add in spices and salt. Stir in a bit of water and using a hand blender - pulse a few pulses (if you want to) then stir in the lime juice and preserves. Cook until mixture thickens. When you serve - stir in some chopped cilantro.

It was YUMM-O.

Besan is really fine and it is yellow and I think it works best in savory dishes - as it has a funny smell to it.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Book Review: Veronica

Veronica: A Novel Veronica: A Novel by Mary Gaitskill

My rating: 4 of 5 stars
I became aware of Mary Gaitskill's work when she was featured in Poet & Writers magazine. This is the first book of hers, that I have read.

I found the book strangely compelling and repulsing, all at once. I am not sure I agree with her world view, but what she does well is capture the world of the mind. The second self it seems to me. Alison, the narrator is trapped in her own confusion it seems to me.

Veronica is a woman she meets while temping in NYC in between modeling jobs.

The counter balance of the ugly and the beautiful and the elegant and the profane is amazingly well done. While it could have come off as trite, it doesn't.

The organization of the book is interesting and it works, although it does make the book hard to start, I found, the flipping thru the past, present, and middle, seemed strange at first.

My biggest issue is even in the end, I just did not like Alison very much. I never really connected with her. Maybe we aren't suppose to, I am not sure.

I also think that MG's message is very strong, but not preachy, I like that. I like that she leaves things rather unresolved and not packaged and neat and trite at the end. I really like that.

Overall I feel the first half of the book is the meat of the book. For me anyway. I found the ending worked, but not as well as the beginning and the middle. I also think that some of what she includes about Alison today - the friends she lunches with, was extra in a way, as was some of the details of her childhood. I felt as if MG had chosen one set of details or the other, the story might have been stronger.

Her style is amazing and her use of language very poetic, but blunt and clean.

I also appreciate that she does not over write - but I sometimes feel like MG throws us something and then leaves it very unresolved, in a ways that feels off to me. I think she handles John and Alison's relationship very well. That felt connected for me, by the end, but there are other things, other details which seem to have the potential to add something but don't.

What I do like and the flip side of my critic above is the fact that I think she is being accurate. I think life is like this. A series of events, with seemingly no real connection, except for the fact that they all happen and are experienced by us in a sequence

I will say that this book is gritty. It is blunt and frank. MG makes no real effort to clean it up or sanitize it any way.

View all my reviews >>

Jack T. Kirby

Many of you know that I attended Miami University and hold a BA in American Studies and German Literature. In four short weeks I will have my MBA. Talk about well rounded ;)

While at Miami I had the privilege of being in Jack Kirby's American History Survey, from 1850-now. Awesome class. Just awesome. He lectured like a dream. He stood up there and told us a story... every M-W-F, at 8 am. I will admit I was smitten. His southern accent and his story-telling skills. It was as if he was on the stage... it was not a lecture, but a conversation, like a great recital of events.

I also was the only one paying attention sometimes. Taking notes feverishly. Most people slept. It was 8 am after all.

One cold February morning, I was paying rap attention to his explanation of the Gilded Age, when out of now where he threw something my direction. I looked up and noticed, that the entire lecture hall was seemingly asleep - expect me.

Then he took a stack of books from his bag and threw them down on the desk, making a huge bang. Like an explosion.

"Young lady, what was it I was saying?"

He was starring at me and pointing.

In a quiet voice, I read back from my notes. Totally embarrassed.

"Thank you kindly ma'am for your attention to the key events and details. For those you just joining us, we were discussing XYZ and I would appreciate your attention please."

He carried on. Point made, I suppose.

Afterward, as we walked out he smiled at me and tipped his hat. He wore a civel war style cap. Like an officer I suppose. It was odd, but then one is allowed such idiosyncratic hats when one is a history professor.

He also attended my Honors project presentation and kindly made some comments. He really was a great story teller. That is what history is. The recording of past events, their examination. It is not as objective as many a high school history teacher would lead you to believe.

May his contribution to history live on.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Book Review: Perfection

Perfection: A Memoir of Betrayal and Renewal Perfection: A Memoir of Betrayal and Renewal by Julie Metz

My rating: 3 of 5 stars
When I picked this up at the library, I was unsure of what to expect. By the 10th page I was hooked. Metz has a beautiful straight-forward style and her ability to tell a story is wonderful.

She not only tells us a story, she tells us about the people in the story and she reflects on the story, she seeks to make connections, she is honest about her emotions and she is naked in them also.

That said, the book has some stylistic issues which gave me pause. While I like the going back in time, I found it jarring, when I am told by chapter heading I am one place and then we go back 20 plus years. I get why she did this, but I still stumbled over it and it is a technique she employs more than once.

I also think the last 1/3 of the book is the weakest. I suspect you have to show the entire cycle, but I felt towards the end or almost end, we had information which really in my opinion added little value to the overall story. It was just information. That said the last 10 pages (well maybe 7) really were very useful also. I like the messy neatness of it.

Metz also has a real talent for sentences which jump off the page and grab you. They are singularly profound and arresting and buried in a sea of beautiful yet very normal text.

I think she handles the subject beautifully, I admire her desire to understand, to not be drown in anger, to try and put together the pieces of an amazingly complicated puzzle, to seek a place where she can understand some most un-understandable actions. I think she also gives us an amazing glimpse at how people, all sorts of people deal with grief and disappointment.

She also does not rely on excuses or gimmicks.

All in all this is well worth reading.

View all my reviews >>

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

This and That for the New Year

Yep I know I have not been around much. Been busy, you know, so here is a bit of a random update for those of you who might or might not be curious.

Christmas Cards.

Right I know you got none. No it was not a mailing error. I decided, it is silly to send all these cards. It is a costly and time consuming task. It is not that I do not care about you. I just had so little time this year and postage is seriously expensive. Seriously.

I was torn, make no mistake. I do like writing cards. So I decided, I was not going to be a lemming, but rather, more proactive about writing random cards through out the year and less inclined to add to the Christmas madness.

MBA School

I have officially 4 weeks and 6 days left. Do I have senioritis. Hell yes I do. I just want to be done. February 8th, I am a free lady. I will have completed my masters degree. Now seeing as I officially started this process before L was born, it has literally taken years, but I am done. UOP is an efficient way to go.

I am thinking of trying to teach once I am done. It would be a good fit for my life and I think it suits me.

Speaking of working...

I am now working at Indie House Collective on Wednesdays and hopefully expanding that to Fridays once school is over. I like the energy there. I like the creative buzz and I find I am very productive. No piles of laundry. It is not home. While I do love my home office, I am sitting in it now, I also find real value not working at home. There is a balance to the process of going to work.

Upset Tummy Troubles

As many people who follow the blog know, I have really struggled with my gut for much of the year. After an agonizing glutening in April of 2009, I have struggled mightily to get back to center. My weight has been crazy weird and the gluten caused me jump nearly a dress size, even thought he scale hardly budged. Then the scale budged and I languished. On top of that - I just felt genuinely bad.

In the last 6 weeks, my weight and frankly my hormones I think, have shifted. I have lost about 6 pounds. Rapidly. My blood pressure has bottomed out a bit off and on and I have been really trying to find that gut balance point. While the weight loss is welcomed, the other issues have been a challenge. I mean a challenge.

We might be there. I am now back at my normal weight and the waist band of my pants reflect that. This is a recent development. I have to be the only person in America to lose 4 plus pounds the week of Xmas and New Years. Without even trying. I will even admit to splurging on some chocolate...

I also have moved forward with new doctor and had a serious amount of blood drawn, in order to under go some testing, in an effort to pinpoint exactly what is the trouble with my gut. Let's hope 2010 is about putting the gut issue to bed for good.


So for those of you, who are math challenged and childless - be happy. Be very happy. L is learning double digit subtraction with regrouping. (Like 41-29)

Now let's just say that there is no memorizing jack. It is an intuitive approach and they teach the kiddos like 7 different ways to look at adding and subtracting - then they throw the regrouping idea at them. Seriously. Then they wonder why the kiddos are confused.

I am really decent at math. I have been working extra with her. We are slowly getting there. Between this and them wanting her to finish the 2nd grade reading at least the 4th grade level, I actually wonder exactly what 3rd grade has in store for us.

Cancer Live

Mom is in a 2nd Level Chemo trial at the James. So far so good, but I have to say, they expect alot out of a woman, with cancer. Lots of appointments and running around. The side effects are manageable, but my bro and I are circling the wagons. It is very exhausting. She is in amazing hands, but it is still a long road...


Our cat is fab. She loves us and we love her. The kids are still, 3 months in, being very responsible about her care and she has mastered the cat door. I still am convinced it was fate. She was sent to us for a reason.

This blog

I am not sure if I will continue blogging here or not. I find I have less and less time and my creative energy has been taking me in different directions of late. Needless to say, I do not want this blog to be stale and only updated once in a while. That said, nor do I want it to be filled with mindless drivel.

I am unresolved on this point. How much is enough for it to remain relevant? Useful. To what end is it.

So we shall see. I am thinking it over and will get back to ya'all!