Friday, August 20, 2010

So What If He Was Muslim?

The current President of the United States has stated clearly and unambiguously that he is a Christian. I, for one, think he should not even need to discuss his faith. It is a private, personal matter and irrelevant to his position. It is shameful that he has been forced to respond to blatant discriminatory questions and accusations. When John F. Kennedy announced his run for President there was an equally hideous show of prejudice and fear over his affiliation with the Roman Catholic Church. If elected, he would become the first Catholic president. Some Americans feared that he would force his beliefs on the rest of us or favor his faith over others. It was a huge deal that ended up totally and utterly moot. The day after he was elected, the Earth continued to rotate on its axis and day followed night. Barack Hussein Obama has amply proved that he is a man of intelligence and integrity [not to mention patience] regardless of whatever religious box others want place him. His father may have been Muslim, but the President was raised by his Christian mother and grandparents and followed their example. Religious tolerance is a precious tenet among American liberties. It is not open to discussion, particularly one of a political nature. In other words, a person's religious affiliation or lack of one is irrelevant to anyone else but that person. A man should be judged on his actions, not on suspicions or here say. Our president has proved time and time again that he is someone quite worthy of admiration and support, not vilification.

Monday, August 16, 2010

An Adventure in Cooking

Spouse comes from a culture in which males are not expected to cook, clean or do any domestic chores, at least as far as I can tell. Since marrying me, however, he has learned to clean exceedingly well. I'm happy to relinquish that chore to focus on cooking, laundry, driving, shopping, bill-paying -- well, we all know a woman's work is never done. Many years ago I tried preparing Persian recipes in hopes of pleasing Spouse. Many of these recipes are very healthy and some are even tasty, once you get used to them. I still can't stomach anything with chick pea flour in it. More on that in a moment. I still make koo-koo which are potato pancakes, common to many cuisines. The first time, we made them together, following what Spouse remembered from the way his mother made them. We found a recipe in a cookbook a friend had given us which called for chick pea flour as a thickening agent. The recipe also called for savory ingredients to give the koo-koos some flavor, but Spouse didn't remember his mother making them that way, so we left those out -- big mistake. Mashed potatoes, a dozen eggs and chick pea flour resulted in completely inedible fried lumps. Next time, I more or less followed the way my mother made potato pancakes, adding chopped onion, salt and pepper, NO chick pea flour[!], and only two eggs. I started frying them just before spouse walked in from work. Their fragrance met him in the hallway and he came in with eyes lit up. During the summer I like to make salads rather than cook hot evening meals. Pasta salad with a simple olive oil dressing sounded like a weird idea to Spouse, even though it was packed with many of his favorite veggies. Battling his annoying reluctance to try anything new, I force-fed him a bite. Surprise, surprise, surprise!! He liked it! I've developed many incarnations of this easy dish and have gotten over my shock that he prefers to eat it warmed-up. Go figure . . . Saturday, while grocery shopping, he decided he wanted to make a pasta salad. Cooking for me is another, satisfying, creative outlet, so I try to encourage this behavior in Spouse. When he decided to put his salad together, I decided to let him at it without any input from me. [evil chuckles] I hung close by to turn down boiling pasta before it boiled over and to hand him tools he didn't know he needed until he started floundering. The only pasta he will eat is angel hair, cooked to death. To this, he added a can of chick peas. He also wanted to use sweet onion, so I'd picked up a nice Vidalia. Slicing or dicing wouldn't do it -- he wanted to grate it -- the whole thing. [My eyes started watering just thinking about that.] Keeping a straight face, I suggested he use the food processor for this and left the room. He did a thorough job of crushing the daylights out of that poor onion. When he removed the processor lid, I heard him gasp as the odor hit him in the face. He didn't say anything and I stifled a giggle. Now anyone who does any cooking at all, knows you have to plan ahead and time things so that they come together at the right time and consistency. He'd picked roasted chicken off the bones the day before and frozen it in a bag. He had to bang it on the counter several times before roughly half of the chicken, ample for his salad, broke away from the mass. He plunked it into his work bowl and figured it would thaw by the time the pasta was done. [stifled guffaw]. To the frozen lump of chicken, he added the mangled onion and a little olive oil. To make it look a little more appealing, he added some dried, chopped parsley. After roughly 15 minutes, he decided the angel hair pasta was ready and yelled for me to come hold the colander while he drained it. [the burn from bumping me with the pan is healing nicely] Into the bowl went the mushy pasta and chick peas, steaming on top of the still frozen chicken, etc. Trying to be helpful, I suggested he cover the bowl to let the hot pasta thaw the chicken. He thought that was brilliant, but was soon back to trying to break up the chicken with a spoon. Eventually, he added a little salt and pepper, mixed up the lumpy blobs with a little more olive oil and put them it the frig to chill. He seemed cautiously pleased with the end results. Spouse fondly remembers and brags about eating raw onions warm from his father's garden. I hope he still has a taste for onions, because I don't think he'll be able to taste anything else in his creation . . .

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Ricky Mouse Met His Maker

Last evening, just as George Stephanopoulos (filling in for Diane Sawyer) welcomed us to the ABC Evening News and before we had taken our first bite of supper, a snap trap in the kitchen stopped Spouse and me, forks halfway to our mouths. Then, when I did not spot Ricky zooming around the corner into the dining room, I assumed the worst -- he'd met his demise. Spouse and I sat for several moments, grimacing at each other. Later, I would learn it was for entirely different reasons. Ricky fought death and Spouse wanted to wait til he stopped to dispose of the body and trap. I was grieving the tragic end of such a young life. During the week after I had discovered Ricky was staying with us, I had made a conscious effort not to use the oven because the heat might discomfit him. I was not pleased that he was living behind the stove, but since that was where he seemed to spend the bulk of his time, I did not wish to be rude. We have heard of suicide by police, right? Well, I think Ricky chose suicide by mouse trap. Following expert advice, we had placed any possible source of food for Ricky in the frig and hoped he might exit as he had entered. However, the gap under our entry door had just been installed with a new aluminum and rubber strip blocking all access to that entrance/egress. I can almost imagine Ricky's desperate attempts to escape and, finding none, stoically deciding his own fate. Suicide may have been his only choice, but I heartily wish the outcome could have been altogether different. He was a vigorous, young, and to some eyes perhaps, attractive rodent. We will never know what he might have accomplished in life. Perhaps he wanted to build a mansion in an abandoned sofa somewhere for a future family/litter. Maybe he would have become a church mouse. Now, sadly, we will never know. Rest in peace, Ricky. You were clever and brave, but your timing was totally off. [Just in case anyone might be wondering, my tongue is firmly planted in my cheek ;-)]

Monday, August 9, 2010

Too many screw-ups . . .

. . . some have been my fault and others have befallen me through forces beyond my control. Today finally brought a spot of sunshine to my otherwise troubled life. A tiny mouse I've nicknamed "Ricky" has been hanging out in our apartment helping himself to -- we haven't figured that out yet. No holes in bread wrappers or packaging have divulged his presence. He does, however, leave numerous caraway-seed-shaped calling cards. Five days ago, Spouse put out a couple of traps, primed with peanut butter. "Ricky" must be picky. He apparently does not like chunky peanut butter. How rude! Today, John, who is on the best team of building maintenance and engineering guys in the city, came to my rescue. I feel silly that a tiny little mouse can terrify me, but he assured me that it was perfectly OK to be frightened and that mice do carry diseases. [I always appreciate someone who helps to save my face. . .] He went on to thoroughly inspect the usual entryways for mice and found none. Next he crawled inside the kitchen cabinet under the sink. He found a small gap and stuffed it full of steel wool and compound -- some sort of white goop. Right after he stood up again, "Ricky" skittered out from under the stove and took a tight right through the dining room. I freaked. John bravely checked the mouse's likely path while I cowered on our bed. We didn't find him, so I've been armed with a paint roller extension rod to whack him if he shows his beady little eyes. So now, thanks to John, we have mouse poison under our stove -- apparently "Ricky's" chosen vacation spot and under the kitchen sink. Each convector is fronted by two snap traps and eight more are strategically placed along "Ricky's" likely path and in the kitchen. If he manages to avoid all those, I may have to locate a tiny trophy for him. Maybe not. Anyway, our furry friend (?) is a bold little critter and I'd much prefer to see him escape into some nice pasture somewhere. You know -- the kind with tall grass and flowers waving in the breeze. Then maybe he could find a nice little girl mouse and live happily ever after -- OUTDOORS.