Things Consumed

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Saturday, November 30, 2002

This has been a lovely vacation. [I will repeat myself just a bit, since it's been a few days since I last wrote, and our wonderful State Park system is worth repeating oneself over.]

Big Basin Redwoods State Park is delightful, yet nearly abandoned this time of year. As if we are not in California. As if camping is something done only in summer. The rangers close campgrounds due to decreased demand and to keep track of those of us who can't resist the lure of the park in the quiet season, which wouldn't be so bad if the bathrooms to those closed camps were not also locked. (Cruel, cruel, cruel.) The tent cabins were all available, and I recommend them highly despite the price. ($49 per night. The wood burning stove and indoor dining areas are worth it. Just bring a bottom sheet and some additional padding for the double beds, which are as hard as stone.)

On Monday we hiked from the tent cabins along the Shadowbrook Creek, up to the Sequoia Trail trailhead, near the plaque commemorating the founding of the park in 1902 and the site of small and lovely Sempivirens Falls. We continued up Slippery Rock to the Skyline to the Sea Trail, and headed east to parts of the park we'd never visited.

The Basin and Hollow Tree Trails, high atop an eastern ridge, provide broad views of the valley, temperatures at least 10 degrees warmer than HQ, and warm sunlight on the dry, chapparral hills. There were many birds, and as the afternoon shadows spread down the valleys we even saw a coyote, who did not seem thrilled by our presence. The air was amazingly fresh, and we didn't run into a human soul on the trails all day. (We did see someone on the paved roads that lead to HQ, but that doesn't count.)

The hike took all day, which is what I had wanted, but somehow not what my body expected. My feet hurt me despite my previously comfortable boots. But a shower, a hot dinner, and a roaring fire returned me to contentment.

Tuesday we hiked to Buzzard's Roost from our cabin, using a steep fire road rather than following Shadowbrook creek. Darn it. Just the same, the hike to the Roost was great, and gave us a clear view of the controlled [cough cough] burn near Berry Creek Falls. The Pine Mountain Trail up to the roost is very gradual and well-maintained. (Hollow Tree had many downed trees across it, and was so heavily covered with leaves that it was like walking through cornflakes for much of the descent.)

During our visit we picked up the excellent book, Plants of the Coast Redwood Region, by Kathleen Lyons, Mary Beth Cuneo-Lazaneo. All of the photographs in this heavily illustrated guide were taken in or near Big Basin (by Howard King), and the book covers all types of plants we had questions about. Toyon, the State Shrub (!!!) figured prominently in our questions, and this book answered those. It also provides information on historical uses of the plants, and information on the edible versus the poisonous. I plan to carry this book quite a bit, especially so I can tell oaks apart and remember what the sharply lined leaved trees are (tan oaks).


What we ate while camping: oatmeal cookies, pumpkin cookies, bananas, chocolate Silk, Emmentaler (Swiss) cheese with water crackers, oranges, pre-baked spaghetti squash casserole, more oatmeal cookies, canned spicy French lentil soup, more pumpkin cookies, gouda and skim milk mozzarella with Wheat Thins (not as good as water crackers with cracked pepper), rotelle with tomato vegetable sauce, marinated artichoke hearts, lemonade, and hot chocolate.


Thanksgiving with my family was also relaxing. No, really. My mom catered the meal over to my dad's house, where I was staying. We had the traditional foods: mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, green beans, stuffing (not stuffed in anything for me), green salad, olives, pickles, those fluffy white biscuits...



My family is more 'mainstream American' than I am in their food choices. They eat fast food regularly. They eat pies that they buy in the frozen section of the supermarket. They periodically buy frozen, deep fried food from a truck that drives through rural areas. They do not necessarily read labels.

My mother mentioned that she'd bought a jar of cheese whiz to help persuade my niece to eat more healthy veggies: mom planned to smear the veggies with cheese whiz, and that would make them more appealing. (Suspend your disbelief here.) It wasn't until I pointed out that a mere 2 tablespoons of c.w. contains 13% of her day's fat and 20% of her day's salt, and that she'd might as well just spread thick gobs of butter on the veggies because at least we know what's in butter that she was finally deterred.

(Incidentally, c.w. is not vegetarian. It contains anchovies through the auspices of Worcestershire Sauce. Also, "cheese food" is what cheese eats, and "cheese whiz" is what cheese does in the bathroom. Isn't it?)

posted by Arlene (Beth)7:39 PM

Wednesday, November 27, 2002


I have just emerged from a very hot bath. The world is new again! I feel great.

Instructions for taking a bath after several nights of camping:
-run a bath deep enough to emerge yourself as completely as possible. If you have one of those drain stoppers that stops the drain on the side of the tub, that will help.
-the water should be unbearably hot. This isn't necessarily great for your skin, which prefers just plain hot, but it's better for achieving a boiled-noodle like feeling. Once suberged, any limb you lift from the water should immediately display an upward cascade of steam.
-light a candle
-stir two cups of epsom salts into the water
-drop in the essential oils of your choice. Today, my choice included 6 drops of tangerine and 4 drops of ylang ylang
-soak until you fear dehydration, unconsciousness, missing dinner, etc.


(Writing this just reminds me that the web has so much more content now that I can probably read something I've long wanted to: Wet: The Magazine of Gourmet Bathing by Leonard Koren. (See fan site here.) Unfortunately for me, remembering that led me to look up Mr. Koren's biography, which did nothing but give me a bad case of biography envy. Stewart Brand's bio was the cause of my last virulent outbreak of bio envy, and I have not fully recovered. I have been only somewhat mollified to realize that Mr. Brand has had a 30 year head start on me in the bio development department. Ditto that Mr. Koren was dropping out of college while I was still in diapers. But still.)

posted by Arlene (Beth)4:31 PM

Big Basin Redwoods State Park is beautiful, beautiful, beautiful, and relatively empty this time of year. We had a tent cabin (cabin walls with screen windows, tent roof) with a wood burning stove, and over the three nights we were there, there were only 4 other cabins in use the first night, and one in use the last night.

Of course, the one that was in use the last night was diagonnally across the street from us, as if there weren't 32 other cabins they could have chosen -- the place was empty aside from us. And our strangely clingy neighbors had two cars and constantly yelling children. But the crackling and roaring of our cozy fire drowned them out most of the evening we were in.

The entire time we were there, hiking enthusiastically, we only ran into TWO other people on the trails. The few other people were walking on paved roads. Really. It's amazing. (I'd tried to make a campsite reservation and couldn't find available sites, but it turns out that's because many of the campgrounds within the park are closed for the season, not because the place is crowded on a holiday week.)

The Santa Cruz mountains were ours, in all their glory, without crowds or human noise. It was fabulous.
posted by Arlene (Beth)1:42 PM

Sunday, November 24, 2002

Here's my recipe for spaghetti squash casserole, this version of which I made last night for the first time. It was yummy.

-a spaghetti squash
-tomato, bell pepper, and onion pasta sauce (I use Trader Joe's), 28 oz.
-one package of tofu, drained, mashed, and combined with 1/4 cup of olive oil, 3 small cloves of crushed garlic, a teaspoon each of basil and oregan, half a teaspoon of crushed red pepper, and a few grinds of black pepper
-an onion, sauteed in olive oil with a red bell pepper until tender
-about a cup of thoroughly washed and chopped spinach, wilted by sauteeing with the onion and pepper when they're already mostly tender.

Split and de-seed a medium sized spaghetti squash, and bake it cut-side down in a pan at 350^ for about an hour, or until the shell begins to brown. (You can add a cup of water to whatever pan or sheet the squash is resting on.) Remove it from the oven and flip the cut halves cut-side-up to cool. When it's cool enough to handle, shred the insides with a fork - they'll come out in long, thin strands like spaghetti.

In the meantime, sautee the other described veggies and make the spiced tofu-ricotta.

In a lasagne pan, pour and spread out about half of the tomato sauce. Add a layer consisting of half the squash strands, a layer of all of the tofu mixture, a layer of all of the sautee, the rest of the squash, and finally the rest of the sauce. It should just about fill the pan. Put this pan back in the oven, and bake it for half an hour. Serve with a grinding of black pepper.


I haven't gushed about the novel I recently finished. Into the Forest by Jean Hegland is a story of two teens living in an isolated house, and their experiences when American society begins to fall apart. A foreign war undermines the U.S. economy, and bit by bit things the girls had always taken for granted fail: the phones, electricity, the post office, shipping, the gas supply, and ultimately, societal law and order. Their survival depends not only on learning to care for themselves without outside help or supplies, but on avoiding other people who might what little they have.

Which is sad, but rings true.

Food, my favorite topic, figures heavily in this book. What do you do when there is no store and you run out things you can't make yourself, such as flour? What should you try to grow? How can you survive the winter on your own resources?

The descriptions of the world are lovingly rendered, as is the way the girls awaken to new possibilities in the natural world around them and their untapped inner resources.

I bought this book in Healdsburg, near where the author lives, at a store called Toyon Books, but didn't realize that Toyon is the name of a native tree here until I read this. The girls in the story don't know the world around them, or even the objects in their own home very well, until their survival depends on their knowledge and planning. [The luxuries of a very materially rich society with many layers of specialization and interdependence prevent the average American from having survival skills that are quite basic in most other parts of the world, which isn't the point of the book, but which is something I wound up considering.] It's an educational and engrossing novel, especially once the girls realize the seriousness of their situation. I recommend it.

posted by Arlene (Beth)10:30 AM

Saturday, November 23, 2002


Mmmm: hot, steaming cinnamon and herb tea. *sigh* Life is good!


I don't know why I didn't just go there intuitively:

They have a section devoted to arguments for vegetarianism, which includes an interview with a founder of the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, which includes comments on dumb interpretations of studies and a few gems. Sample:
"When they come to America, or even wealthy Japanese women living in Tokyo or Osaka eating a western diet with meat every day, compared to poorer people in the same area who are not eating meat. The difference in breast cancer risk between a Japanese woman eating meat every day, and a Japanese woman who isn't, is a factor of eight. In other words, the meat-eating women are eight times more likely to have breast cancer. The genetics are the same in these cases, so it's not a factor.

"If a Japanese family comes to the U.S., their children eating a Western diet will have the same risk of breast cancer as the Caucasians living around them, and here again it is not an effect of genetics."

The article also has a great list of reasons not to consume dairy products, and some other good things.

And the Physician's Committee has vegan thanksgiving recipes.


I've been tooling through one of Google's vegetarian recipe collections. So many yummy-sounding foods, so little time to try them all out. I'm hoping for more ideas for foods to take camping. (My usual list can be found in the lower half of this section). I'm used to going on backpacking trips, where weight and volume are major concerns. But staying in a cabin and getting there by car... I could bring _anything_. And as a result I'm overwhelmed by the possibilities.

Soy milk and good cocoa (instead of instant add-water cocoa), homemade soups, moist foccaccia, homemade cookies, juice... My mind is just reeling.


Alcoholic drink recipe of the week: one part orange-flavored vodka, 4 parts ruby red grapefruit juice. It's cloyingly sweet, but in a pleasant way. For health fanatics, note that it contains quite a bit of vitamin C. Yeah, that's why I drank it. Sure it is.


I really like this poster for peace.

posted by Arlene (Beth)10:25 AM


This morning I took S. out to one of those lovely crepe places I'm always rambling on about. Not my usual favorite, but another one with a very similar menu. It opened a few minutes late, and it took a little while to get our food, but it tasted great. The only real problem was the music. Easy listening. Light jazz. Boring songs of the 70s made even more boring.

It was torment. S. jumped out of his chair before I finished my tea, because he COULD NOT STAND THAT MUSIC FOR ONE MORE MOMENT.

I think I figured it out: it's to encourage table turnover, and prevent people from lounging about after eating. Which is wrong for a cafe, but I could see how it would work.


And now, the eye candy department:

If you like pictures of seals and penguins, there's an antarctic blog in progress from someone doing a wildlife census. They must have a fast connection, which I'm tempted to tease my central valley dad about: fast connections aren't available in California's rural central valley, but are in ANTARCTICA.

A lovely photo of the moon in the sierras. I LOVE the Sierras. If only I didn't work so dang much in summer, I could explore much more of them. Pesky work!

Here's another entry in the pollution or art category. It makes me think of the floods in Europe this year, which carried off sculpture collections from a modern art museum, and inspired one person to note that none of the works will be recognized as "art" in the outside-of-the-museum world.

posted by Arlene (Beth)9:35 AM

Friday, November 22, 2002

[I'll just upload this quickly, and save more comments for tomorrow morning.]

It's one of those dark, overcast, still mornings when you want something cozy with breakfast. Something like a hot cup of green tea soy milk. Which we're out of. Or just hot plain soymilk, perhaps with cocoa. Though we're out of plain soymilk, too. Or some soup. Which we have no ingredients for. Not even rahmen. Quesadilla? No salsa. Cereal? Don't get me started.

I hate the last day before I go grocery shopping.


Despite the grey weather, there are still pretty things on my too-late-to-bike-in walk to the train station. There's an angel's trumpet with a new blossom a few blocks from my house. The recent rains are inspiring calla lilies to pop up early. There are some late, vivid scarlet dahlias in a garden on the other side of the hill that I pass. It's nice to have fresh-smelling distractions along the way to the train, so I'll stop looking at the thick, polluted air. [We've had some BAD air quality days recently.]

Soon I'll get out of the city and go to a lush redwood forest to do some very luxurious not-quite-camping, staying in a tent-cabin (wood walls, tent ceiling) with a built-in wood-burning fireplace. Though I'm sure it won't do much for the air quality in the forest, the luxury of indoor camping is pretty funny for avid backpackers. Especially in the food department. I can bring a cooler! I can bring heavy, fresh fruit and pasta salads and soy milk for cocoa and canned foods and just about anything that will fit in the car. It's so... excessive, to bring more than one can carry 50 miles in a backpack. It should be novel and fun to try.
posted by Arlene (Beth)9:32 AM

Tuesday, November 19, 2002


Oh dear: more than you want to know about haggis. Or at least, more than I want to know.

On GMO contamination:
"Federal regulators said today that they had ordered the destruction of an Iowa cornfield surrounding a test site for gene-altered crops.
The incident involving ProdiGene Inc. is the second in two days in which regulators said there was a risk of gene-altered crops contaminating the food supply. On Tuesday, regulators quarantined a Nebraska grain elevator after finding stalks and leaves from ProdiGene's gene-altered corn mixed with soybeans. That batch will also be destroyed.


Recent favorite photos:

If globalization as it's currently being enacted is so great, why are so many people so unhappy about it?

A historic plaque about nothing.

Art installation or pollution?

The nicest photo of Oklahoma I've ever seen.

So many protests, so little time.

posted by Arlene (Beth)6:50 PM

Sunday, November 17, 2002

Yesterday, S. had his family and friends over for a sort of housewarming party. There were about 20 people over. I made dinner: two pans of lasagna, a huge green salad, a cheese plate, lots of crackers, olives, roasted peppers, and two pumpkin pies. I'd also made a fresh loaf of garlic thyme bread, but someone else brought bread so I just let that cool in the oven.

But I had some today, and it was good. It's mostly whole wheat, so it has that substantial feeling that's good for winter meals. The garlicky flavor is subtle enough not to alarm (unlike most things I make), just good and mellow. It's quite hearty. I recommend that recipe, and will try others from that site.

posted by Arlene (Beth)6:13 PM

Friday, November 15, 2002

Oooh! Fall colors! And even more fall colors in persimmons. Okay, that's actually an image of a very large bat and a very small bat eating persimmons. But it's still festive and seasonal.


I'm fighting off a cold. I'm not feeling especially festive. Hopefully soon.


Rice-in-odd-places question of the day: "Why should we subsidize a pump that will sell subsidized water to grow a subsidized crop?" In a New York Times article noting that farmers in Arkansas have drained their aquifer through overpumping, and now expect taxpayers to help them overuse new water resources taken from others. They quote farmers as saying it's in the national interest to keep their land fertile, and thus "is the taxpayers' burden," which would be fine if they then handed over their land to the taxpayers. But they don't. Funny, that.

posted by Arlene (Beth)10:46 PM

Tuesday, November 12, 2002

Sinus headaches are quite unpleasant. Remind me not to have these in the future.

Nature is a damp place over which large numbers of ducks fly, uncooked.
-- Oscar Wilde (in Adbusters No. 44)

posted by Arlene (Beth)5:53 PM

Mmmmm, hot water with honey and lemon. It feels good on my scratchy, ill throat.


The modern farmer is only a tractor driver or poison sprayer. Her is only a tiny cog in an enormous and highly complicated techno-bureaucratic structure that begins in the oilfields, goes through the whole chemical and the huge agribusiness industry... and ends up in supermarkets.
--Jose Lutzenberger, environmentalist, Brazil

You may have noticed that I spend a lot of time thinking and writing about food. Food is not just wonderful and delicious and sustaining and good. It's also a business that is interwound with politics, and that makes for some rather strange decisions.

Our food is not all grown with love.

Factory farming is one sad example. Starting in my parents lifetimes, farms started to become consolidated by large companies. In order to increase efficiency, HUGE plots of land are all planted with the same strain of one crop. That way they plants basically have the same needs, and can largely be treated the same way: get the same water, fertizilers, and so on, with little need for human intervention. Because the land was not being fertilized with other farm products and plants like on small farms, the big farms had to start fertilizing with chemicals. But the idea was that soon, technology would allow everyone to be fed, eliminating hunger and poverty, and making farmer's weathly through increasing the productivity of their land. That doesn't sound too bad, does it?

The problem with this new-fangled farming method is that causes a lot of new and different problems.

Nature contains all sorts of specialized insects that feed on particular plants. Usually they're limited to what little of that one type of plant they can find, which exist in small pockets. Usually there are other, predatory animals that live around that plant in nature that can regulare the insects. Usually, there are a variety of types of the same plant that can resist a few bad years of that type of insect, and a range of other, unrelated plants that can help keep the soil healthy, so that all plants get what they need without using up the earth's nutrients. Natural systems are like this.

But the 'efficient' mega-farm isn't nature's usual set-up. It makes no room for such protections: there are no insect-resistant, other types of that crop; there is no natural shelter for predators that eat insects to live in; there is no break between the massive fields of their one, identical crop; there aren't a range of plants to replenish the soil. And so pests enjoy free range, and grow, and multiply, and grow over uninterrupted states of uniform crops with the same weaknesses.

And then factory farms spray their crops with expensive pesticides and chemical fertilizers, to make up for the imbalances they have caused, but which put the farmers and farmworkers at risk for cancer, birth defects, and other heinous ailments. And the insects develop a resistance, and the cycle continues. I've read that crop losses to pests has been increasing almost proportionate to poisonous pesticide use. And that some years, because farmers are betting all they have on just ONE crop, when the crop fails they lose it all. EVERYTHING. Whereas in what my sister calls 'the olden days,' farmers 'diversified' their crops, so they always had others to fall back on. Now it's a gamble: all or nothing.

It's not working very well, as a system. But there's so much money to be made, so many false promises of what a good arrangement this is, so many companies lining the pockets of senators in exchange for huge public subsidies for crop prices and water, that many farmers can't find a way out of the cycle of diminishing returns.

But there are ways out. One of them sounds kind of simplistic, but it's going back to the way farming was done 100 years ago. When a successful farm could operate with a variety of crops, with natural pockets to house beneficial animals, with systems to reuse farm waste to fertilize the soil, without the need for costly and poisonous chemicals and owing the chemical company your soul. It's called organic farming. It's worked for hundreds of thousands of years.

And it's PROFITABLE. But that's not my point. My point is that organic farming is good and good for you.


Tomatoes. Varieties lost from 1903 to 1983: 80.6%. -- Fatal Harvest

Can I talk about tomatoes? Of course I can. I LOVE tomatoes. Tomatoes, so round and red that they were once called love apples and forbidden to women out of fear they would incite uncontrollable female lust. (As if female lust is bad!) At my factory farm-supplied supermarket across the valley, there are two types of tomatoes: big round red, and slightly oval red. They are both bland. The fruit is all the same size, and the same color.

Go to the organic store near my old apartment, however, and it's tomato heaven: giant, bright yellow ruffled; green and yellow zebra stripe; red brandywine; green grape; peacevine red cherry; yellow pear; red plum... All grown without pesticides or chemical fertilizers. All cared for my people on smallish farms where variety is considered a strength for the farmer's bottom line and for the farm's health. And all have far more flavor than the uniform, machine-picked, supermarket "choices."

So which would you rather have? Bland uniform fruit grown with poison, or a wide array of flavorful fruit grown without?

The supermarket will not ask you this question. It is easier for them to stock uniform fruit they buy in huge crates from the same megadistributers they buy motor oil and dish soap from. To them, this is not about your diet and health and preferences: it is about making as much money as cheaply as possible.

Which is why we all need to realize that they don't have our interests at heart, unless our interests make them money.

I'm about to read a fabulous book called Fatal Harvest: the Tragedy of Industrial Agriculture. When I'm done I'll write a lot more about this.
posted by Arlene (Beth)1:14 PM

Sunday, November 10, 2002

I'm coming down with a cold. My body has been trying to warn me all week that I wasn't getting enough rest and fluids. But did I listen? No.

Things that you should consume when you have a cold:
-a tea of honey and lemons, strong enough to be slightly tart
-green tea, now and then, especially something cozy like genmachai
-soup with cayenne pepper in it. Waiwai brand soup from Thailand includes rice or wheat rahmen style noodles, and several flavor packets: one with soup base, one with cayenne powder, and one with oil. I toss the oil packet and use the other two. It makes an effective decongestant for even the worst of colds.
-garlic soup. A broth of a head of garlic, parsley, a little olive oil, and some cooked rice or noodles or water/saltine crackers.
-food made for you with love from those near and dear to you.


Though I just read another great book, I'm again thinking about Beyond the Sky and the Earth, about Bhutan. The adult author was taught to cook by her second grade students, boys of about 8 years of age. They knew how to cook a nice meal. Rice, spinach, chilies, tomatoes, spices - a hot and cozy meal for a mountain evening.

How many 8 year olds do you know who know how to cook? Who can cook for their families? Who can cook for themselves starting with raw ingredients like rice, spinach, and tomatoes, and do so without adult supervision?

I've seen American 12 year olds beg their parents for peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. As if assembling a sandwich with two ingredients and pre-sliced bread was TOO DIFFICULT.

This is something to think about. I think about this when I bike past the parochial school across the valley from me. There is a long line of weaving, randomly stopping cars full of parents driving their children to school, some from just a few blocks away. Do those kids even know how to get to school without a car? How to cross streets, looking both ways for cars? How to handle themselves for little things, like walking to a nearby friend's house, or going to the corner store for ice cream? Can they manage to make their own lunches that their parents pack for them? I know adults, like the author of the Bhutan book at the beginning of the story, who can't cook for themselves (they can heat up prepared food in the microwave, but that's about it). In this day and age. Because such things were always done for them, and they've never bothered with learning how.

Do they realize there are children who are more skilled in basic living tasks than they are in very economically disadvantaged countries around the world? Kids who run businesses for their parents, who can go alone to markets many hours away by foot, who can clean house and cook and take care of young siblings with competence and skill, all because they were taught how and it was expected of them?

Surely we have the ability to imbue people, young and old alike, with that kind of independence and self-sufficiency. But we don't, as a rule, though some kids learn such things through necessity and the skill of their often lone parent. But it's interesting to me that so few children here seem to be able to manage much of any self-care.


There are 5,000 varieties of potatoes on this planet. Here in the United States, only FOUR of them are grown commercially. 4. And to think we believe we're rich!

posted by Arlene (Beth)4:32 PM

I want to share the best ever recipe for pumpkin (or butternut squash) pie. But the catch is, it's copywritten by the nice folks at Mori-Nu. But they have a recipe page for me to link to, which would be fine if they didn't require you to REGISTER as one of their users. I mean, Azumaya doesn't require registration. What's the deal?

posted by Arlene (Beth)12:53 PM

Saturday, November 09, 2002

I bought some canned pumpkin to use to make pie. (I usually use butternut squash, baked and then pureed, but I was using butternut for another dish in the same meal.) Inside the label on the can, it actually says, "it is perfectly safe and acceptable to enjoy straight from the can."

???? Do you sit at home with a spoon late at night, eating pumpkin straight from the can?

I didn't think so.


I went to the green festival today. It was great. I'll gush more about it later. Right now I'll just describe my largely raw food vegan lunch. Neatloaf with lots of veggies mixed in, and a fresh tomato "ketchup" on top. Mash, which was beans and daikon radish and perhaps a few mystery ingredients, with a light salad dressing. Baby lettuce.
Later I had an herbal exilir, which was very good and completely unidentifiable. It was made from brews in three different containers, including a small formula dropper, and looked kind of like a chemistry experiment. But it was delicious.

I'm still burping radish, but lunch was quite tasty. All the food at the green festival was vegetarian, even the corn dogs - some of it was vegan. It was all very good for the planet, since veggies are better for the planet than voracious animals that consume far more calories than they can ever provide. So even the food was very "green." It was nice that the food was consistent with the overall message.

It's late.
posted by Arlene (Beth)11:51 PM

Sunday, November 03, 2002

Steven ate the largest burrito I have ever seen. I'm still afraid for his well-being. It was so big, it had to be made with two overlapping tortillas. It must have been just over a foot long. HE ATE THE WHOLE THING. In one sitting.

Ocean Taqueria (on Ocean Avenue, appropriately enough) supplied the "jumbo" veggie burrito for $4.84. TWO OVERLAPPING TORTILLAS had to be used to accommodate it. TWO full-sized tortillas. Inside: beans, rice, salsa 1, salsa 2, lettuce, cheese, sour cream, guacamole.

I am just amazed. And alarmed. I mean, his stomach can't BE that large, can it? Are all of his other organs being squished to make room? He's perfectly comfortable. I'm not, and I had a normal (yet still too large) burrito (which I shouldn't have eaten all of, yet did as usual).

posted by Arlene (Beth)5:34 PM

Saturday, November 02, 2002

When I was in school, I didn't get to have a blog relationship confessional and links to all of my friends' blogs. I had the internet, yes, and e-mail, oh yes. But none of this glossy, graphical web stuff. Gopher and WAIS and other good things, but nothing this... easy?

Not that I'm old or anything.

Well, okay, maybe I'm just a little bit old.


The next time I'm in Okinawa, I'd like to visit this aquarium. I didn't know anyone kept whalesharks in captivity! Wow!


I don't follow pop culture, but I'll remember this comment about C. Aguilera from this Morford column: "Her cover spread in the recent Rolling Stone could frighten plants and is about as genuinely sexy as a spider monkey in heat."

My plants don't shock easily, but I still like the idea.


Two words: orchid curry.


I'm still thinking about momos, which I made for dinner (yumm!), and about Jamie's Zeppa's Bhutan book (from whence the orchid curry reference came, with little explanation). It was really easy to visualize the dramatic Himalayan landscape and local people she described, because it is familiar: Nepal is similar in geography and population, with a mix of people from adjacent nations, and I have been to Nepal. Which is sort of an amazing thing in and of itself.

[It turns out that, if you don't spend every last dime buying, filling, parking, and otherwise taking care of a car, you can periodically travel to exotic and beautiful places. People who are shocked and amazed that I have never owned a car often also find my history of travels bizarre, and almost offensive. As if I broke a rule and got something I shouldn't have gotten. Go figure.]

I had a wonderful and educational experience in Nepal, traveling with a group from New College of California. It was great, but I didn't want to live there. While many vivid and beautiful images from my trip flashed through my mind while reading Zeppa's book, other less pleasant recollections also came back: the pain of an ear infection (bathing in contaminated water is not good), not having enough blood sugar to climb the last hill of the day, and of being painfully, bitterly cold. Those things I do not miss.

One of the great things about Zeppa's book is that she doesn't romanticize Bhutan too much. She hates it, she loves it, and then she both loves and hates different aspects of it. It's not perfect: noplace on earth is. But she sets her priorities and loves and hates accordingly. It comes across very honestly. Which makes the beautiful parts all the more beautiful.

posted by Arlene (Beth)10:46 PM

It's finally the weekend! Yaaaay! And I'll probably have to go into work tomorrow, since I'll be working offsite Monday! Booo!

At least I have a moment to write now. I can write about momos. Mmmmm. Momos.

A lovely book called Beyond the Sky and the Earth: a Journey into Bhutan by Jamie Zeppa reminded me of momos. The book is about much more than momos: about trying to decide how to live, and doing things that are risky and more challenging than you'd like, but being rewarded with both great new experiences and new risky situations. It is set in the fabulous and isolated kingdom of Bhutan in modern times, and is the true story of one woman's first real trip away from home. It's about friendship, community, love, rats running around in your kitchen, teaching school, being taught to cook by small children, isolation, poverty, and natural beauty.

But it's also about momos, which are delicious dumplings made in Nepal, Tibet, and Bhutan. They are filled with a spiced potato mixture (plus spinach or cheese or meat), steamed or pan fried, and served with a delicious chili sauce.

They are HEAVENLY, which is appropriate considering the altitude at which they are usually served.

The book discusses other lovely sounding dishes, like spinach sauteed with onions, chilies, tomato slices and rice. (Momshaba, I think it is called.) And while I'm dwelling on the food, and did even while I was reading the book, the book doesn't. I was probably more excited when a friendly neighbor sent over a basket of plums than the author was. But it's a lovely book about living a life of your own choosing.

[The Kopan Cookbook has lovely recipes for momos and a great momo sauce. The sauce is much less hot than what is served over there, but you can adjust it to your own tastes.]
posted by Arlene (Beth)9:47 PM

Friday, November 01, 2002

San Francisco finally has a flugtag competition, but the local paper fails to publish garish and exciting photos of the event!!! How can this be possible?!?


Speaking of flying through the air with the greatest of ease, I read these items about radiation and pollution recently:

"A mushrooming scandal over falsified safety reports and clandestine repairs has frozen Japanes plans to construct six new nuclear reactors totalling 9,000 Mw, and forced the shutdown of six operating nuclear plants.... The Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI) in late August announced it had found that [a utility's] employees had falsified safety reports over 10 years involving cracks in core shrouds and other internal structures of 13 reactors and two nuclear powerplants...." From ENR, 10/07/02.

From that same issue: "...the U.S. is the only wealthy country that does not require all coal-fired powerplants to remove sulfur dioxide from emissions. 'Congress was persuaded in 1970 [when drafting the Clean Air Act] that, since foal-fired powerplants would be phased out soon, it was not necessary to order flue-gas desulfurization'... [However], 'the life of plants went from 17 years to 40 years.'"

Please come and visit us, but don't breathe the air.


I read a great book this week, but don't have time to write about it now. Hopefully the weekend will bring some quiet time to write AND to upload the enchilada recipes I have just re-found.
posted by Arlene (Beth)8:21 AM

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