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Wednesday, October 30, 2002

There have been fabulous pomegranates in the market recently. Deep deep red. Glistening, firm, jewel-like arils. Extremely sweet and flavorful.

I just read that only 5% of Americans have ever tasted a pomegranate. They are missing out! Apparently, so am I, because there are many lovely varieties that I have never seen, written about here. Even the accompanying photo makes my mouth water...
posted by Arlene (Beth)1:27 PM

Sunday, October 27, 2002

If I can find my enchilada recipes in my archive from my previous site, I'll start to set up a cookbook page shortly. Most of the recipes will involve garlic. Act surprised. [Garlic? No way!?! You mean, there's garlic in this? That would explain the absence of vampires and the way people faint when I pass them on the street! Thanks.]

posted by Arlene (Beth)12:17 PM

Several years ago, Andra at work gave me a copy of a recipe from a British magazine for roasted squash and tomato soup. It's easy to make, vegan, and tastes WONDERFUL. I've never figured out what W&H magazine is (I'm sure it has a boring title, like Women & Home instead of Wombats & Heroines), but here is my restatement of the recipes, since I prefer to make things a bit easier on myself.

Chop the following, toss lightly in olive oil, and put in an open casserole into a 400^ F oven for 40 minutes or until slightly charred:
-8 tomatoes, halved
-a pound or so of butternut squash, diced if you can dice it, or halved if that's too difficult
-a quartered, peeled red onion
-a head or so of garlic, peeled, with the cloves scattered throughout
-a few dashes of thyme.

When these ingredients are baked and smell good, take them out of the oven, dice the much softer squash, and puree in batches with 6-7 cups of vegetable stock (cubed bouillon is fine). Allow to simmer until your guests are ready to eat. Add a dash of salt if you used an unsalted stock. Serve with a grinding of black pepper over each bowl.

It is a wonderful winter dish!
posted by Arlene (Beth)12:13 PM

Thursday, October 24, 2002


Ooof. I have that doorstop feeling. The heavy, immovable object feeling that comes from eating a super vegetarian burrito (menu choice E) from Pancho Villa. It's a wonderful burrito: fresh, complex, tasty... and large. Larger than my stomach, technically. Which means I shouldn't have eaten the entire thing. But it tasted so good!!

My punishment: immobility, and not having room for a lovely dessert of cantelope ice cream from Mitchell's. Grrr! Grrr. Zzzzzzzzz.
posted by Arlene (Beth)7:26 PM

Tuesday, October 22, 2002


Food news: irradiated fruit is on its way to a market near you. Why? Well, it's another way to kill insects. Because what we need in this world is more things that have been exposed to radiation, right? Right? Well, no.

Ulterior motive: "While the process adds a few pennies per pound, Oberkfell said fruit sellers benefit because irradiation stops natural ripening and extends shelf life." Stops ripening and extends shelf life. Because Americans eat too much perishable, ripe food??? Not hardly. This is another one of those 'messing with the food supply to benefit business rather than consumers.' Just like tomatoes that are genetically engineered not to bruise in a truck and to look ripe, even when they're not. Ick.

At least labeling of irradiated foods is required. Though companies have been trying to dodge the issue. A SureBeam (irradiator) spokeswoman said "We found that consumers don't necessarily want to know a lot of detail about how (SureBeam) works." Which is another way of saying that they figured out that consumers when asked, aren't keen on irradiated food. To the idea has been not to ask, and to hide it whenever possible. "Electronic pasteurization" is one euphemism.

Happily for those of us who don't want more radiation plants in our environment, irradiation isn't off to the best start. After last year's anthrax scare, when the band's hairstyles all went south, no, I mean the other anthrax scare, the U.S. Post Office started irradiating packages. However, people reacted badly at the idea that the process could ruin cookies. "Used at certain levels, irradiation can oxidize fats in foods, changing the taste and color of meats or possibly even those butter-laden cookies, food scientists say." Where's the fun in that??


Likely not a coincidence: Africa loses its glaciers. It couldn't be global warming, could it? Maybe, now that the Bush administration admits it exists.


Miscellaneous pretty pictures: a festive groundbreaking and Virginia's fall colors.


Here's a photo from a protest for National Road Safety Week in France. Here in California, a protest like this would be interrupted by some moron in an SUV talking on their cell phone and inadvertently running down a block's worth of people before noticing the carnage. And who would only stop after spilling his latte. Not that I'm critical of SUV drivers or anything. Especially not the woman who drove the wrong way down a one-way street toward me while gabbing away, oblivious to frantic waving, oncoming traffic, the big 'DO NOT ENTER' signs, and other subtle clues.

posted by Arlene (Beth)5:41 PM

Sunday, October 20, 2002

The weather has turned a bit cooler lately. And seeminly proportionate with my increased excercise and the increased cold weather come... cravings for fatty foods. I bought cheese yesterday. CHEESE. Three kinds. This is not normal. I am nibbling on a chocolate bar as I write this. At this rate of nibbling, the chocolate bar will be gone in under a minute. It tastes great. But it's not something I ordinarily would eat.


Yesterday I was reading the wonderful book Women Photographers at National Geographic. It's a large, glossy, glorious book with excellent essays. One of the essays discussed adventurer Ella Maillart. "For her most famous journey, a seven-month trek from Beijing to Kasmir in 1937, she set off with two pounds of marmalade, a rifle, a bottle of Worcestershire sauce, and a Leica camera."

The food items are certainly interesting. I know that "safe" fruit (which hasn't been washed in contaminated water, or which has a protective, sanitary peel) is hard to come by generally, and I suppose the marmalade meets some of that need. And the W. sauce would be for hiding the flavor of challenging meats. But neither would occur to me.

Though for the short Nepal trek I went on, I brought along a few cups of cranberry juice concentrate. I knew I'd need vitamin C, and figured that would be a good way to get it, in combination with my water purification system. And surely enough, within sight of Everest, I decadently enjoyed the juice. I needed the C: I had gotten an ear infection from washing in contaminated water. But I think it helped my morale more than it helped my body.


Random photo of the day, saved from September: a yellow jacket.


I love gardens. I find them very mentally soothing. Working in law is very mentally non-soothing, so I need all the gardens I can get. I'd like to visit this one:

"Portland's is a three-star masterpiece, the most scrupulously maintained and richly cultivated Japanese garden anywhere in this country. Many aficionados consider Portland's the most beautiful Japanese garden outside Japan. Independently financed, the upkeep is not constrained by city budget woes. Six full-time gardeners are assigned to its 5.5 acres, and their attention is obsessive. A part-time moss specialist spends most of his days on his hands and knees, pulling tiny weeds with tweezers"

From a New York Times article. (It includes links to the Seattle and Portland garden sites.)


It's bad enough that corporate media has cut their journalism budgets so that less and less of what they report as "news" actually is. Many "news" items begin with "An exciting new product will be released this weekend..." Or "A new movie opening in theaters..." because they don't bother doing any research. It caught up with them after a piece of recent fluff reporting. Major media outlets fell for a hoax story that natural blondes are going extinct. No one bothered to find out of the scientist from the World Health Organization, which doesn't study such things, exists. Which he doesn't. Thank you so much, major media outlets.


Another random item: When animals attack - to get even.


I would think about food too: ""The Coast Guard is very nice," Watson said. "I just need some food. I'll be all right. I wouldn't mind having some chocolate pudding." " This from a Florida man who says he was lost at sea for more than two months was rescued 40 miles off the coast, Atlantic side. This didn't come long after saving a man similarly lost on the Pacific side. It's enough to drain any romantic notions I have of sailing right out of me.


Unlikely to be Coincidence:

"SAN FRANCISCO, Oct. 2 - Federal officials said today that at least 20,000 chinook salmon and other fish died in the Klamath River in northern California in the last two weeks, but they were unwilling to attribute the deaths to water flows that had been diverted to farmers... Last week, biologists with the California Department of Fish and Game said the diseases were spreading in part because so many salmon were crowded into small pools of water..." And then, the only mildly satisfying part of this, "Mr. Spain joined the leaders of several other groups from the Klamath River region, including Sue Masten, chairwoman of the Yurok Indian Tribe, and Representative Mike Thompson, the area's congressman, in delivering 500 pounds of the dead salmon outside the Interior Department's offices in Washington."

(That from a NY Times article.)

posted by Arlene (Beth)5:55 PM

Saturday, October 19, 2002

This has been a decent food weekend so far. Partly because I acquired a treat on my bike ride home Friday night: Mitchell's Ice Cream. A pint of pumpkin, and a pint of cantelope. Mmmmmmmmmmm. It's darned good. S. now understands why there is always a line out the door of this little family-run ice cream shop. And I'm happy that the easiest way to pick up ice cream is by biking, because I will need the opportunity to burn off the extra calories. (Though they'll have to get in line behind the 'excessively large serving' calories that are already patiently waiting to be expended.)


There was another treat when we came home from grocery shopping. A fresh loaf from Grace Baking ("Good Bread Daily"), a triangle of gouda from holland, and a chunky artichoke heart/garlic/herb/olive oil spread made up our late lunch. It was perfect. I sipped a cheap Australian cabernet along with it, which made it even more perfect.


But I was supposed to provide a recipe for stuffed shells, right? Let's see. The ingredients are: dried pasta shells, the pasta sauce of your choice, one bunch of spinach (about 3 cups), a half pound of mushrooms, an onion, two cloves of garlic, olive oil, dried basil and oregano, crushed dried red pepper, and love.

Boil the pasta shells per the package directions.

Saute a chopped onion with a half pound of mushrooms in a little olive oil, until the mushrooms cook off their juices and are noticeably smaller in the pan. Then add in thoroughly washed spinach leaves (no stalks, chopped), and saute until wilted, about 2 minutes. Remove that pan from heat and set it aside.

Preheat your oven to about 350 degrees.

In a bowl, mash a package of tofu (12 ounces or so) with 1/4 cup of olive oil, a teaspoon of dried basil, a teaspoon of dried oregano, a half teaspoon of crushed red pepper, and two crushed fresh cloves of garlic. When it is well blended and the tofu is well mashed, mix in the spinach and mushroom saute.

Pour tomato sauce into a casserole pan. Stuff the shells with the filling mixture, arrange them tightly in the pan, pour over additional sauce so most of the pasta is covered (unlike the illustration on the shell box cover), cover with tin foil, and bake until your kitchen smells good, about half an hour.

Serve with garlic bread (bread sliced and spread with fresh crushed garlic, olive oil, and a dash of balsamic vinegar; broil or wrap in foil and bake with the shells) and a green salad (especially one with romaine lettuce, an avocado, and a creamy poppyseed dressing).

posted by Arlene (Beth)8:04 PM

Thursday, October 17, 2002

I've made a full recovery from my oil fried pillow lunch of last week, and have moved on with my dining. Recent favorites: spinach/mushroom/tofu-ricotta stuffed shell pasta in a garlicky tomato sauce and spinach salads with feta, home grown tomatoes, and kalamanta olives. If I can stay awake tonight, I'll provide recipes.


I don't know how I missed finding this before: it's the BBC's Week in Pictures archive for European news photos in 2002. Some of the photos are quite charming. For another sort of look into Europe, there's the BBC's Guide to life in the European Union, which includes detailed profiles of all the member nations.


Here's an image of a sunset rainbow. Awwww.

And now, back to work for me.

posted by Arlene (Beth)8:45 AM

Sunday, October 13, 2002

Friday at lunch, I dined on little, oil-filled pillows. They weren't intended to be oil-filled pillows: they were intended to be eggplant in garlic sauce. But the eggplant was deep fried, and then it was fried again with the garlic sauce, and somewhere along the way it turned into a group of little oil sponges. Little tasty oil sponges which I greedily consumed. Little tasty oil sponges which sank down into my stomach like stones, and which have haunted my mental and physical digestive systems and made me distressed at the thought of fried food and any form of eggplant ever since.

As soon as I recover from the trauma, I'll start writing about food again. Good food, like honey chili eggplant: eggplant deep fried quickly in a light batter that protects it from greasiness, and then coated in a honey and crushed red chili sauce. Mmmmm. I can almost think seriously about eggplant at the thought. Almost. But not quite.

posted by Arlene (Beth)6:24 PM

Friday, October 11, 2002

Mollie Katzen is not a vegetarian. Which is fine for the author of dozens of vegetarian cookbooks, but weird. Especially the way the interview provided at that link equates tofu with "remorse." I mean, on what planet? Is a garlicky, herbed tofu ricotta in a heavy pan of lasagna symbolic of remorse? Or tender chunks of tofu in a gingery miso broth with crunchy bean sprouts anything other than cozy and warming? Or in a salty, garlicky black bean sauce anything other than enlivening?

Everyone has their own decisions to make (she notes that where she gets her protein is her own business), but you have to wonder what bad decisions people are making in life if something that can be as blank a slate as tofu, which can be anything from a ricotta to a chocolate pudding, has "remorse" projected onto it.


Last night I ate at Bissap Baobab. They have a wonderful Senegalese menu. I had a spicy stew with cous cous and banana flambe with vanilla ice cream. It was fabulous.


Speaking of restaurants, NY is considering a complete smoking ban in restaurants. Smokers and the tobacco industry claim it will doom business. But as this audio clip points out, after the restriction of smoking to bar areas of restaurants went into effect in NY, and after smoking was banned in California restaurants, receipts WENT UP. People like me started eating out more often, not less. (And people like me got so used to the idea, that when in Hawaii and asked if I wanted to sit in the smoking or non-smoking section, I just laughed. I didn't think the hostess was serious. Who would waste space with a smoking section? And, unless there is a sophisticated ventilation system, isn't that still like having the chlorinated and non-chlorinated sections of a swimming pool?)


Something slightly random: the BBC's weather photo gallery.


On the topics of both food and health, a NYT/Reuters article on obesity:
About 59 million American adults, one in every three, are obese, and the number of overweight children has tripled in the last two decades, new studies show.
The biggest gains in weight are in people over age 60, black women, and black and Mexican-American teenagers, say the studies, which are to be published on Wednesday in The Journal of the American Medical Association. Half of all black women 40 and older are obese; so are a fourth of black and Mexican-American teenagers, a 10 percent rise over the last decade.
Among adults, the prevalence of obesity was 30.5 percent, up from 22.9 percent in a survey conducted from 1988 to 1994. The number of those considered overweight but not yet obese also increased, to 64.5 percent from 55.9 percent.

Combine this with the earlier article on how obese folks are unaware of how large they are, and you can see Americans are in a world of trouble. (And why American cars are too big, among other things.)

I blame nutritionless junk and convenience foods, which aren't satisfying nutritional needs, and so leave people hungry no matter how much they eat. Among other things.

posted by Arlene (Beth)9:19 AM

Monday, October 07, 2002

One of the closing blurbs on the Marketplace radio show on KQED was news that a judge just ruled that food products that do not contain genetically modified organisms (GMOs) cannot be labeled GMO-free, because it implies that GMO products are inferior.

Of course I'm thrilled to know that one of the great things about living here in the land of the free is that I'm not ALLOWED TO KNOW what is in the foods I buy.

Followed to its logical conclusion, we soon won't be allowed to know whether real or artificial vanilla is used (because of the implication that artificial isn't as good), that products were made in the U.S. (implying that foreign products might not be as good), whether they contain recycled materials (which may or may not be more or less environmentally sound than raw), whether or not products contain products I'm allergic to (because that's my fault, right?), etc.

Me: Do these grapes contain arsenic?
Grocer: 'Can't tell you!
Me: What about motor oil?
Grocer: We wouldn't want to imply that motor oil was somehow unhealthy, would we?
Me: Um, why wouldn't we?
Unocal Spokesman: Because I might sue you?
Me [accepting court summons from Unocal legal department, who are also in the store] This is like that weird Monsanto case, where Monsanto sued Ben & Jerry's for saying their products didn't contain bovine growth hormone. If you can't tell the truth on your label about what you DIDN'T put into it, what kind of meaningful representations can you make?
Unocal legal department: Only the representations we pre-approved our wholly owned politicans to let you make!
Unocal Spokesman: [makes 'zip it' hand gestures to legal department]
Me: [puts food back on shelf, goes to gardening store, buys seeds, goes home hungry.]

posted by Arlene (Beth)5:16 PM

Sunday, October 06, 2002

Is this thing on? *tap tap tap* It is?! Then I'm back on-line! Yippee!!!

At the end of this fabulous (unless you're an A's fan) and hot fall day, I am reconnected to the internet, and can catch up on reading and rambling. I'd especially like to thank Charles C. for his live phone support, for which I hope to ply him with food at some point in the near future.

*My life*

So it's now October, and I'm writing from the study of my new home in San Francisco. I have a desk now, and a lamp, my computer (wheee!), and one of my old chairs, along with an orchid which was displeased by the recent trauma of relocating to a different window. Unlike the orchid, I am showing signs of recovery from September's many traumas: my mother-in-law-equivalent's unexpected death and funeral, deadline pressure to complete the move almost immediately thereafter, running out of boxes on my energetic nights, uncertainties about when the furniture could be moved, the stress of work and home trading places without a break between them...

We cleaned our rented home in San Bruno the last weekend of September, and Steven packed his plants over many trips the following day. And said goodbye to San Bruno.

And now we're here, in the City in which we both were born, watching the setting sun shine on the Sunnyside homes across our valley, to the windswept hills of the Marin Headlands, with even the misty outline of Point Reyes visible in the distance. From our dining room the sun lights up Cloud Hall at City College of San Francisco a warm orange. And while I still can't find my shoes, I know that they're here in this house, somewhere. In our house, which is increasingly liveable and more home-like by the day.

*Fun things*

There were things I wanted to write about, during my internet hiatus. Not necessarily important things. Just things about life, and what we make it.

I am amused that someone actually conceived and hosted the Extreme Ironing world championships. Yes. Ironing. As in, "Welcome to the home of extreme ironing - the latest danger sport that combines the thrills of an extreme outdoor activity with the satisfaction of a well pressed shirt." Oh yes. The games were apparently won by a British team this year, but the Germans made a good showing. My favorite photos are here and here, but there's an entire gallery here.

As part of my celebration of my return to San Francisco and the related dramatic improvement in the quality of my bicycle commute, I rode in the 10th Anniversary Critical Mass bicycle ride through the streets of San Francisco. It was quite something. It was fun to ride through the streets of my home town as part of a parade of merrymakers. It was frustrating to ride with a leaderless group which couldn't get the ride started, because so many newbies were still approaching the starting area who couldn't be persuaded to turn around and GO. It was silly to see so many people just stop abruptly in the middle of the street on their bike, trying to take a photograph or cell phone call, oblivious to the thousands of people pedaling along with the flow behind them. It was stunning to pull back onto Market Street, look toward Twin Peaks, and see nothing but cyclists in the westbound lanes for as far as the eye could see, with Muni buses parked on the other side of the street at least to Powell. Just people and their little blinky taillights, filling the street and moving slowly, often too slowly to pedal, toward the sunset.

The ever-sensationalistic Channel 2 evening news said there were 10,000 cyclists in attendance. TEN THOUSAND. (The SFPD said there were only 2,000, but also said that cyclists filled 40 blocks, and those two ideas don't go convincingly together.) There was live helicopter news coverage of the event, and I'd love to see images from that, but being off-line made that difficult. There were beautiful commemorative posters. There was a nice Chron article on Critical Mass' 10th Birthday. Other links to good articles and photographs can
be found at this critical
mass page
, while there are tons of photos at, and a primer for new riders here.

I want to mention that my favorite band, Sleater-Kinney rocked the Fillmore.

*Unfun Things*

Those were fun things I wanted to write about. But I also have some things that are less fun or really bad. It's all trivial, in many ways, but it's negative insight on my fellow humans that I still find troubling.

*Unfun things - CULTURE*

In this day and age, uptight folks in Texas are still freaked by the sculpture "David"'s nudity. I mean, really.

In Afghanistan, there has been little change for women overall, despite some local improvements in Kabul. It's interesting that while patting itself on the back for defeating the Taliban, the U.S. and its press is so very careful to omit all references to America's past involvement in destabilizing the country and bringing violent extremists to power in the first place. Grrrr.

I'm glad that photos are powerful, but sad that this comes to pass: outrageous images of excessive wealth caused a furor in Mexico. Because sometimes the truth isn't just ugly, it's excessively tacky, too. What is especially sad about this to me is that excess does NOT cause much outrage here in the U.S. Recent corporate scandals and insights on corrupt lifestyles of corporate leaders just lead to a sad resignation here now.

*Unfun things - POLITICS*

I enjoyed this excellent Morford column on Shrub's response to Gore's criticisms, though I didn't enjoy any of the President's recent public speeches, especially since they cause immediate economic ruin in the stock market every time. On a related silly note: "Ari Fleischer, the White House press secretary, said he did not know whether Mr. Bush had uttered Mr. Gore's name since becoming president." (Per this NYT article.)

Here's another item, this from a Morse column in the Chron:

The Portland Tribune published a list of groups under surveillance by
the Portland Police Department intelligence unit, and every subversive
group in the world is on it, including Planned Parenthood and such local
faves as Mother Jones magazine, the Pacific News Service and the SF Mime
Troupe. The Mime Troupe is delighted.

*Very unfun things - our ENVIRONMENT*

This is lame and bizarre: "When humans and nature collide, the effects can be costly. In the case of animals, the conflicts with humans cost millions of dollars and sometimes even billions. "Critters in Conflict," a seven-part series produced by CNN's science and technology program Next@CNN, examines nuisance species that destroy crops and trees, crowd out -- or devour -- native animals, or, in the case of white-tailed deer, cost dozens of lives and $1 billion a year in car collisions." So, if I understand their point of view, white-tailed deer WANT to be hit by cars to cause damage. It's their fault that they, like, walk and stuff. Alrighty then...

Also on the subject of environmental greed: Dead fish litter the Klamath. Thank you so very much alfalfa farmers and President Bush. The New York Times provided an article on the subject:

"SAN FRANCISCO, Oct. 2 - Federal officials said today that at least 20,000 chinook salmon and other fish died in the Klamath River in northern California in the last two weeks, but they
were unwilling to attribute the deaths to water flows that had been diverted to farmers... Last week, biologists with the California Department of Fish and Game said the diseases were spreading in part
because so many salmon were crowded into small pools of water..." And then, the only mildly satisfying part of this, "Mr. Spain joined the leaders of several other groups from the Klamath River region, including
Sue Masten, chairwoman of the Yurok Indian Tribe, and Representative Mike Thompson, the area's congressman, in delivering 500 pounds of the dead salmon outside the Interior Department's offices in Washington."

A note from the 8/26/02 issue of ENR, in an article about the extreme flooding in Europe this year: "Studies of major floods in Poland and the Czech Republic in 1997 and the Tisza River flood in Hungary in Marcy 2001 suggest that environmental degradation may make record-breaking floods a near-annual event. In reports for the Regional Environmental Center for Central and Eastern Europe, scientists cite a combination of factors: climate change, deforestation and erosion in mountain areas, ... wetland destruction and development in flood-prone areas."


I'm so glad to be back on the net. Thanks for reading. I'll be back to ranting about food shortly. In the meantime, here's a sunset of the day, from Oregon.

Good night!

posted by Arlene (Beth)7:16 PM

Tuesday, October 01, 2002


Ever so true thought for the day: "To the uninitiated, fish pie has a name that is initially even less inviting than toad-in-the-hole," Nigella Lawson notes. *hysteria*

Sorry. I couldn't help it. I know this web page is about food, and by "food" I mean "food I would eat," and neither of those things Nigella mentions are edible to me. But there's something so abstractly funny about it, I couldn't resist. Toad in the hole? Toad-in-the-hole? Doesn't it sound like a euphemism for some odd disease that gives you dimpled hives on some hidden part of your body? It's funny, in the same way it's funny people who try to make you squeamish about some meat product turn squeamish when you ask them why they won't eat insects, homemade sausages, or haggis. Not to bring that up here, too. So sorry. I'm not quite myself without a regular DSL connection.

I still don't have DSL at home, so I'm just squeezing in this short note at the end of the workday. I have been saving up notes to share as soon as I'm reconnected at home. Perhaps as soon as tomorrow, I'll be reconnected to the great electronic world!! Or perhaps I'll be starting at a blank screen and crying into my green tea.

posted by Arlene (Beth)5:14 PM

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