Thursday, February 27, 2014

Internetting and Hummus

People ask me what I do.  It's a basic question, right?  Most people have a ready response like "sales" or "marketing" or "teaching" or something along those lines.  I don't, because I don't have a paying job.  Basically I taxi kids around, make meals, do laundry, pick up toys, and what-have-you.  I also like to internet (as I call it) and I love, love, love being in my kitchen and making food.  So in between prime taxi hours, I like to mess around in the kitchen.

I've been working on a hummus recipe for more than a year now.  It's delicious and super-nutritious.  Usually it takes me about 10 minutes from start to finish, but today I added an extra step that made it perfection!  It took me an extra fifty minutes to take the skin off the garbanzo beans, and to be honest, I was hoping that it wouldn't be a noticeable difference.  Welp, it made a HUGE difference.  So while my recipe went from 10 minutes to prepare to a little over an hour, it was well worth it.  Recipe: perfected.

Here's what you'll need:

  • A food processor.  If you don't have one, then I don't know what to tell you.  Get one?  I wouldn't know how to make this without a food processor.
  • 2 cans of garbanzo beans.  Skin or don't, it's up to you.  It will taste pretty much the same either way, but the texture you'll get when you skin them is crazy good.  Better than store bought.
  • 4 cloves of fresh garlic
  • The juice of 3 lemons.... FRESHLY SQUEEZED.... none of that bottled garbage 
  • 1 tablespoon ground cumin
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 small jar of roasted red bell peppers (totally optional).  I always add them, but I have to admit that it alters the smooth consistency a little bit.  Since you add them last, try the hummus first, and then add the roasted peppers.
  • OH!  Normally I use a 1/4 cup of tahini, but today I didn't because I'm trying to cut fat.  I actually discovered that I prefer it without the tahini.  It's up to your taste buds.
Here's what you'll do:

  • Throw everything into the food processor, one ingredient at a time.  Give each ingredient several minutes before adding the next.  Start with the garlic, then add the lemon juice, next the garbanzo beans, next add the olive oil, then the cumin, and lastly, the roasted red peppers.  Once all of your ingredients are in, let it mix for a few more minutes.  IT'S SO EASY!!!
We all love it, kids included.  It's great with some Stacy's Sea-Salt Pita chips, pita bread (or naan), or as a veggie dip.  Today I threw some on a piece of flatbread and added shredded carrots, sliced bell pepper and chopped kalamata olives to make a Mediterranean veggie burrito.  It was really, really delicious.

NUTRITIONAL FACTS for this particular recipe:

This recipe makes 3 cups of hummus.  One serving size is 1/3 cup.

One serving = 140 calories, 22g carbohydrates, 4g fat, 5g protein, 1g sugar

Everything in this recipe is good for you.  All of the fats and carbs are the GOOD kind.

And that is all.  I've never posted a recipe before, but this one compelled me  :)

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

In Response to "A new place to call home"

In response to: "A new place to call home."

I read an article this morning, and I felt a guttural need to respond.  I'm using my personal blog to do so, because I'm not sure how else to share it.  I fully understand that while some people may agree with my opinion, many will not.  That is okay with me.  To view the original article, you'll have to view the Dixon Tribune's FB page.

This morning I came across an article that had been published in my hometown’s newspaper.  I wouldn’t have seen it except that some Facebook friends had shared it, along with some pretty harsh and scathing opinions.  The article was titled “A new place to call home,” and it was about a new apartment complex that has been built to accommodate farm laborers and their families.  When I read the article, I was immediately brought back to my youth.  Images and memories flooded my brain, and I’d like to share some of them with you.

I grew up on our family’s farm on the outskirts of Dixon.  We farmed thousands of acres spanning through Dixon, Davis and Winters.  We grew nearly every vegetable, grain and melon you can think of.  I started working when I was eight years old, and knew how to drive a tractor before I ever sat behind the wheel of a car.  Farming is not for the faint of heart; the days, hours, weeks, months and years seem endless, and the physical labor is something that’s unfathomable to those who have never done it. 

If you haven’t read the article I’m talking about, I highly urge you to do so before continuing on with what I’m about to say.  I’m somewhat at a loss for where to begin, because this is a topic that has gotten people heated and impassioned since long before my parents were even born.  The blaming and criticizing of migrant farm workers for California’s economical duress can be seen at a microcosmic level dating back to the Great Depression.  It truly baffles me when I hear people say things like, “they’re taking all of our jobs,” or “no wonder our state has no money when those people keep having babies.”  In the comments of the article and on peoples’ Facebook pages, I read some really hateful and ignorant opinions.  What saddens me most is that the majority of people won’t even take the time to educate themselves, and so these feelings of animosity and hatred will just continue to trickle down through future generations.

The article touched on the idea that the farm laborers and their families are, for the first time, being given access to livable housing that they can be proud of.   The apartments are new, they are clean, and they are affordable to people that make very little money.  A couple of facts for you:  The California Agricultural Industry makes nearly 20 billion dollars in revenue each year.  Our country relies heavily on the agriculture that we produce in our beautiful state.  Farmers rely heavily on the hard, back breaking work that the Hispanic population provides, because let’s face it, the rest of the population isn’t willing to do that sort of work.  Even if we were willing to do it, you can bet your ass that we’d demand more than $6 per hour.  We’d also demand health insurance, because let’s face it, farm labor is hard work and it’s dangerous!  I’d bet the farm that most people complaining about this subject have absolutely NO IDEA what these laborers and their families go through on a daily basis. 

I’m starting to get angry again. 

The average agriculture labor worker earns approximately $11,000 per year.  Think about that for a second.  Imagine that the bread winner in your family makes a whopping $917 per month.  With that sort of income, where will you live?  What will you eat?  What sort of transportation will you use?  How will you visit the doctor?  How will you pay your electricity bill?  I can hear the arguments already: our taxes pay for these people!  That’s why our state’s deficit is so huge!  Ok, so let’s pretend for a minute that the laborers don’t exist.  Who is doing the work?  Who is physically keeping our Ag industry going so that our state can make 20 billion dollars in revenue each year?  I guarantee you that the people saying “maybe I should just become a Mexican farm worker so that I can live cheaply like them,” are not willing to do that work.

I’m about to share a dark secret with you from my childhood, about what it feels like to own a farm and to employ Hispanic workers; all the while going to school with their children, being friends with their children, and seeing the squalor that most of them live in.  Here is a memory that still haunts me to this day:
Taking the country bus home from elementary school, one of the stops along the way was to what I can only call a migrant camp.  These giant tracts of housing where my schoolmates were being dropped off were old and they were falling apart.  Each unit connected to the other was a single room in which entire families lived.  There was no grass, no flowers, no parks, only dry dusty dirt.  Their parents worked hard (I know because they worked for our family), and this was the best they could afford.  I felt guilty because I know their parents are working just as hard as mine, but they had nothing to show for it.  I felt ashamed because I know they are embarrassed to be dropped off at their “houses” in front of their schoolmates.  As one of the kids on the country buses, you were either the child of a farm owner, or the child of a farm laborer.  The dichotomy of this situation if you stop to think about it, is incredible.

What bothers me most about this topic is the lack of empathy that people feel for their fellow human beings and neighbors.  We are all here on this planet together.  Someone was excited when each of us was born.  Each of us feels happiness, sadness, joy and despair.  Each of us has worries about money and about providing for our children.  It doesn’t matter what language we speak or where our ancestors are from: we are all humans doing the best we can in this world, and in our lives.

For those of you who think that farm laborers are being given a handout and ultimately taking something away from you, I urge you to seek out the truth before getting angry.  I remind you that your children are friends in school, that you are sitting next to these “free-loaders” at church, and that they (like you) are just doing the best they can.  Because of these new apartments, a handful of families have the opportunity to be proud of where they live, and finally have something to show for all of the hard work they’ve been doing; and you have the opportunity to be proud of treating your neighbors and fellow-citizens with the dignity they deserve as human beings.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Waterproof Bandaids

It was the summertime of my tenth year.  I had long tangled blonde hair, bleached to a slimy green hue from the excessive exposure to pool chlorine.  I had always loved swimming, but never quite as much as I did that summer.  It was hot and dry in the valley, with average temperatures hovering around 105 degrees, so naturally I spent my days in any swimming pool I could find.  Occasionally my brother and I would swim in the filthy canals that surrounded the fields on our farm.  We were warned about rats, but we never did see any.   My skin was almost as dark as my chocolate brown eyes, so much so that I could have passed for a Mexican.  Moms didn’t fuss with sunscreen back then the way they do now, or at least mine didn’t. 

I was a strong swimmer, and the water offered me a different kind of safe haven that year, more than it had ever done before.  I can still hear the utter silence as I jumped off the diving board, head first into my grandfather’s pool.  We were hosting a wake that day, for my twenty-one year old aunt who had committed suicide.  There were over a hundred people there, and the low buzzing of quiet chatter seemed deafeningly loud.  I felt guilty, walking through the house in my swimsuit, while others were dressed in black suits and stiff dresses, clutching snotty, wet handkerchiefs in their tense hands; but I was ten and it was hot, and the pool was quiet. 

Dozens of people stood around the pool, forcing false grins which stretched across their skin as I mounted the diving board and curled my toes over the edge.  Within a moment I was fully submerged in the safety of the pool, and all of the noise disappeared.  I was encompassed by the kind of silence that can only be found inside of a child’s innocent mind.  Surprisingly, for the first time I found myself scared in the water.  I could feel my favorite, dead aunt’s presence, as though she were swimming after me, and so I made my way to the surface as quickly as possible, and the noise returned.  I found myself in a quandary.  Should I get out and surround myself with grief, or should I stay in the water and listen to the deafening silence?  I stayed in the pool, swimming just below the surface from one end to the other for an hour, holding my breath as long as I could.  I could still feel her following me, just about to grasp the ends of my toes, and so I swam harder to remain out of her reach.  I could feel it all summer long, every single time I got into a pool.  I craved the silence that could only be found beneath the surface, yet I feared that I was being chased by a dead woman.  I would learn to live with it.

My kelly green swimsuit was my second skin that summer.  I took it off only occasionally to take a shower, and who needed a shower when they were in a pool all day?  Even when my mom forced me to take a shower and to use the soap, I rarely took the suit off.  One afternoon, after she insisted that I bathe, I walked down the hallway and noticed a cabinet, half open, which stored the Band-Aids.  Old enough to feel the pain of losing a beloved family member in such a tragic way, and young enough to still believe that Band-Aids still had the capacity to heal wounds, I grabbed three beige bandages and took them into the bathroom.  Without being asked, I peeled off my swimsuit, and carefully placed the bandages over my left breast in a pathetic attempt to heal my pain.  Realizing that it didn’t work, I sobbed in acknowledgment of my broken, ten-year-old heart.  I pulled my swimsuit back over my tiny, hairless body and pedaled my bike to the city pool rather than taking a shower. 

I swam that day with a bandaged heart, knowing that she was right behind me.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

The Mixed Tape Of My Life

I’m not sure what the catalyst for this venture was, but lately I’ve been compiling a list of songs in my head that make up the “mixed tape” for my life so far.  Upon listening to each song, I am immediately taken back to a very specific time; whether it’s a first concert, a first love, a loss, cruising with my best friends, moments with my babies, and so on.  Obviously there are hundreds of songs that I’d like to add to the list, but I’ve limited myself to twenty-five…. I don’t think more than twenty-five would fit on a mixed tape.
I’m having a hard time thinking of songs from the past five years, but someday I’ll hear a song and know it belongs on this list for this time in my life; but for now, I’d say this is pretty accurate. 

In consecutive order:

1.       My BestFriend’s Girl, by The Cars 
When asked in 3rd grade who my favorite band was, this was my answer…. Everyone laughed at me. I didn’t care.  I loved The Cars.  And as it turns out, this would also be one of my favorite songs in High School. 

2.       How WillI Know, by Whitney Houston 
My first crush: Eric Melton (or was it Ian Hall?)  Second grade.... but seriously, how WILL I know if he really loves me?  ;)

3.       Only in my Dreams, by Debbie Gibson 
My first concert.  Totally obsessed.  Official member of the Debbie Gibson fan club.  Proud owner and wearer of Debbie Gibson’s perfume: Electric Youth.

The first genre of music my parents didn’t understand.  Thank you Sarah Moore. 

5.       WindBeneath My Wings, by Bette Midler 
My aunt Nancy died. She was 21 and beautiful.  I still can’t listen to this song without crying.

6.       Nuthin’But A “G” Thang, by Dr. Dre 
Introduced to an album (which is still one of my favorites) by Frank Mendez and Robert Mayorga. We drank Mad Dog 50/50 out of a water bottle…. 7th grade.

7.       Close ToYou, by The Carpenters 
PJ Wilson used to sing it to me.  It was pretty sweet.  I sing this song to my kids now.

8.       Mockingbird, by Carly Simon & James Taylor 
Robyn and I KILLED at singing this song, duet style, cruising the Ford Fiesta around Dixon.

9.       Here comethe Bastards, by Primus 
Saw Primus with Tool each year with PJ, Dan, and others I can’t remember.  Also, when I hear my kids wake up in the morning on the weekends, this song comes to mind immediately.

10.   Love Song, by The Cure 
Introduced to me when I was about 16 by a much older neighbor who had the hots for me.  More importantly, I think this song perfectly encapsulates that feeling of when you first fall in love with someone.

11.   Plateau, by Nirvana 
I don’t know why this one means so much to me…. It just does.  I listened to it a lot.

12. Simple Man, Leonard Skynard
Just really great advice for a simple and happy life.

13.   The Joker, by Steve Miller Band 
Drinking beers with my friends at The Airstrip and Thistle Road: my favorite thing to do in Dixon… also the ONLY thing to do in Dixon.

14.   Don’t Rock My Boat, Bob Marley & Lee Perry 
Hanging out at Jeremiah Smith’s house.  Seriously crushing on AJ Bernhardt. Also reminds me of Robyn and her amazing dad, Alex… who had the sickest collection of classic reggae albums.

15.   I Want It, by 7 Year Bitch 
17 years old. Also enjoyed frequently in Robyn’s car.  Saw them in SF with Kristen Ball and Volpi.  We got lost on BART on the way home, and ended up getting an escort from a police man.

16.   LoveBites, by Def Leppard 
Summer anthem. Melissa Graham. Tanglewood.

17.   Walk Away, by Ben Harper 
Seriously broken heart.  I thought he was "the one."  Turns out, he wasn't; and I am so thankful for that lesson.

18.   ScarTissue, Chilli Peppers 
This album was on repeat that year with a friend I miss often, Bobby Atkinson

19.   YourHouse, Steel Pulse 
Fell madly in love with Kevin (we’ll be married 10 years this October).  This song is our song.  Retrospectively, it's pretty awesome that I felt song #19 so intensely, and then this song shortly thereafter.  You couldn't pay me to be 20 again.

20. First Cut Is The Deepest, by Cat Stevens
Working at The Shadowbrook, Terry and Terry would sing this song on Thursdays and Saturdays.  Became an instant favorite.

21. Your Love Gets Sweeter Everyday, Finley Quay
Dancing with the Douglass roommates atop furniture at Douglass....Julie and Nicole.  Anthem for my relationship with Kevin.

22.   Pimpass Paradise, Damian Marley 
Seemed to be my theme song for a bit, and now it isn’t.  Still love this song.

23. Nutshell, by Alice in Chains
Lyrics that chill me to the bone.  Someone else gets it.

24. The Blower's Daughter, by Damien Rice 
I love my babies.  This song makes me think of all of the tiny moments I've looked at them and fallen more deeply in love with them. Nothing else matters in this world.  Nothing.

25.   American Girl, by Tom Petty 
This is, and has been, my favorite song for about 15 years now.  Tom Petty is my favorite performer and song writer.  I can’t listen to a Tom Petty song without thinking of my oldest friend, Courtney Rae.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Rollerblades and a Banana Phone!

This blog post pretty much consists of a photo.  Who has the time or the desire to read about my family today anyway?  I was taking this picture of Haley as she set out to roller blade.  She was looking pretty cute in her helmet, pads and blades.  Sam comes out of know where, decides he needs to be in the picture and yells "Banana Phone!"

So happy Sunday people....make it a banana phone kinda day!  xo

Saturday, June 30, 2012

Today my husband, and dedicated father to our children, is taking Haley (almost 7) to learn how to surf.  She's got ocean swimming, boogie boarding and body surfing locked down, and so now the natural progression is to surf, on a real board, standing up.  This is precisely what motivated our family to move back to Santa Cruz four years ago.

You'd think I'd be out there, snapping hundreds of photographs of this milestone in her life, but I am not.  Surely I will have some regrets a little later, but for now, I just need everyone to exit the house. "Go, go!  Have fun, Haley.  Tear it up! Just remember, if you don't stand up on your first try, you'll get it next time!  Ok, off you go!  Have fun; and Kevin, guard her with your life!"

Finally, the peace and quiet I've been waiting for, but more importantly, it is my sneaky time!  I've got a pint of Hagen Daaz Chocolate Peanut Butter ice cream in my freezer that is calling my name.  I think it feels neglected that it had to sit in my freezer for a full twelve hours before receiving the attention it deserved.  So the family is finally out of the house and I grab the pint, like I'm some kind of junkie.  I remove the lid, and then that little plastic wrapping, and dig my spoon into the glorious cup of frozen chocolate until I hit a frozen mound of peanut butter.  SUCCESS!

So, in short, I hope that my darling Haley has memories of today that will last a lifetime.  In fact I know she will.  As for me, I polished off my pint of Hagen Daas, and will retreat to my comfortable bed to read a book, sleep or whatever else I feel like doing.  After all, it is June 30th, and that is what June 30th is all about right?  Right??

Thursday, June 28, 2012

It’s not me, it’s you: Breaking up with Facebook

What once began as a small blogging site restricted for use by Harvard students has grown into a wildly successful conglomerate with a staggering 500 million registered users.  Facebook (formerly known as Facemash) is utilized for countless reasons, some of which include keeping in contact with friends and family, promoting businesses, a tool for employers to learn about prospective employees, and the list goes on.  I literally could not begin to list the reasons people use Facebook.

My personal use of the website began a bit late.  I used to be one of those people who initially rejected new forms of technology and social media forums.  I suppose my reasoning was that I didn’t want to be accessible to anyone at any time.  If I needed to get ahold of someone I could call them on my house phone.  I didn’t want people tracking me down where ever I was, night and day.  Of course that changed over the years.  I was the last of my friends to get a cell phone, the last to sign up for Myspace, Facebook, and Twitter.  I vehemently rejected the Smartphone until I received the latest and greatest for my birthday, and wouldn’t you know it, I can’t put the darn thing down.  In summary, I tend to reject technology and then at some point I give in, and am addicted shortly thereafter.

Facebook is constantly changing.  They are SMART.  Just the other day I logged in and a giant picture appeared with a swimsuit I’d been admiring a few days before on the Nordstrom website.  Spooky.  That is not the reason I decided to deactivate my Facebook account though.  My account had become my personal yet public venting arena.  It had become my children’s photo album and baby book.  It had become my work space.  It had become the place where my entire life took place behind a computer screen, rather than with face to face interactions.  I checked it at least ten times a day (probably more, but telling you would just be embarrassing).  Lastly, and most importantly, it became the place where people could say whatever came to mind without having a filter- the computer screen had become the filter and that inanimate  object cannot relay humor, sarcasm, or spite efficiently. 

So what?  I’ve broken up with Facebook….again.  I’ve done it before and I’ll probably do it again; but for now I think I will go out and have some real life, face to face interactions.  If someone is being sarcastic, it will be clear.  If someone is being kind, it will be clear.  If someone wants to invite me to a party, they can send me an invitation or call me on the phone.

So Facebook, I am breaking up with you; and just so you know, it’s you...not me.