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Archive for November, 2009

Tonight for dinner I made Pasta with Pesto from the Silver Palate Cookbook:

But the real highlight of the meal was the 1-2-3-4 cake paired with Earl Grey Truffles:

These truffles are from the Bon Appetit November Issue. The recipe can be found here.

I rolled half of the truffles in cocoa powder (what the recipe calls for) and half of them in sifted confectioners sugar, just to make some of them a little sweeter. They’re a little tricky to make, because trying to roll them into perfect balls ends up getting your hands (and if you’re like me, the rest of your kitchen) covered in chocolate. However, they are worth the mess, because the result is absolutely decadent and delicious.

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I have been bad about posting since last week. I was in Boston for Thanksgiving and was concentrating on relaxing. However, I have been doing quite a bit of baking.

My contributions to Thanksgiving dinner were both from the Bon Appetit November issue.

For an hors d’oeuvres, I made Herb and Cheese Poppers

These are basically just little biscuits filled with herbs and cheddar cheese. They made a great appetizer, and the leftovers make great snacks. The recipe is pretty complicated, so I’m not going to type it out, but you can find it here.

 

For dessert, I made Brown Sugar-Pecan Cupcakes with Caramel Frosting

These are the perfect fall dessert, although be careful not to over-bake them or they dry out very quickly. You can find the recipe here.

I guess I’m still in the baking mood, because even though we got back to California last night, I’ve been baking all day. I made Alice Water’s 1-2-3-4 Cake, which we’ll have for dessert tonight.

This cake is incredibly easy to make, and although I haven’t tasted it yet, it smells delicious.

1-2-3-4 Cake from The Art of Simple Food by Alice Waters (the recipe below makes two nine-inch round cakes, however, I took Alice Waters’ suggestion and halved the recipe to just make one 9-inch round):

  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
  • Butter the cake pans and line the bottom of each with parchment paper. Butter the paper and dust the pans with flour, tapping the excess. Separate
    • 4 eggs
  • Measure
    • 1 cup milk
  • Sift and then measure:
    • 3 cups cake flour
  • Stir in:
    • 4 teaspoons baking powder
    • 1/2 teaspoon salt (use 1/4 teaspoon if using salted butter)
  • In another bowl, beat until light and fluffy:
    • 1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened
  • Add:
    • 2 cups sugar
  • Cream until light and fluffy. Beat in the 4 egg yolks, one at a time, and:
    • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • When well mixed, add the flour mixture and milk alternately, starting and ending with one third of the flour. Stir just until the flour is incorporated. In another bowl, whisk the egg whites to soft peaks. Stir one third of the egg whites into the batter, then gently fold in the rest. Pour the batter into the prepared pans and bake until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, 30 to 40 minutes.

To make the cake a little more interesting, I took Alice Waters’ suggestion and added 1 tablespoon finely grated lemon zest and 2 teaspoons lemon juice to the batter. I’m not going to serve it frosted, but she suggests frosting it with equal parts lemon curd and whipped cream folded together.

 

For dinner tonight I’m making pasta with pesto, and we’ll also have some Earl-Grey Truffles. Pictures and recipes to come later!

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Will Phillips is a 10-year-old 5th grader in West Fork, Arkansas who refuses to stand up and say the pledge of allegiance at school (Arkansas Times article here). His reason? LGBT people do not have the same rights as other people, and as he says “I really don’t feel that there’s currently liberty and justice for all.” Let me just reiterate two important points: (a) he’s 10 and (b) he lives in Arkansas. This brilliant 10-year-old wants to be a lawyer when he grows up, and to him freedom of speech means “The freedom to disagree. That’s what I think pretty much being an American represents.” His parents, who also sound like amazing people, are totally supportive of Will and are not trying to stifle him or prevent him from speaking out at all. Unfortunately for all of his bravery, Will is facing homophobic teasing from his classmates and threats from homophobics everywhere.

I think we can all learn a big lesson from Will. At 10, this little boy has more courage than many (or most) adults in this country. He has the courage to act against the beliefs of his teachers, classmates, and many in his community, because he truly believes that we, as Americans, are not living up to the meaning of the pledge of allegiance. Will deserves our full support, and he has something to teach all of us. If we all started acting like this on a regular basis, people will start to notice and change may just start to happen even faster. I hope Obama learns a lesson from Will as well – that if one little boy can stand up (or sit down as the case may be) against so much evil in this world, then the President of the United States can certainly push back against the conservatives who are trying to keep him from making policies that support the rights of women and the LGBT community in this country. Furthermore, Will is also sending a message of hope to all of the LGBT youth in this country who may be afraid to speak our or reveal their dissatisfaction with their lack of rights.

I am in awe of this little boy, and I hope that we all can start following in his example by questioning authority and refusing to participate in certain “patriotic” acts just because we are told we have to.

Watch Will (and see for yourself how brilliant and fabulous he is) on CNN:

Read Kate Kendell’s post about him here.

You can become a fan of him on facebook here.

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Out of sheer curiosity, I watched “Twilight” this weekend. Although I do have a special place in my heart for young adult fiction, and I am truly obsessed with the Harry Potter series, I have not read any of the “Twilight” novels. I’ve never understood the allure of vampires, and watching the movie just confused me even more. I just don’t see why women and girls are so much more obsessed with Twlight than they are with your typical rom-com or tragic love-story.

It was incredibly hard for me to watch the movie without thinking about all the hidden messages about gender-roles and abstinence. The whole plot revolves around the fact that Edward (the sexy vampire played by Robert Pattinson) has to show self-restraint and not bite Bella (the angsty, beautiful human teenage girl), even though she desperately wants him to bite her so that she can be a vampire and be with him forever. All the dialogue is about self-control and how Edward does not want Bella to lose something so important (her life). To me, it is just so obvious that this is a metaphor for sex, and Edward’s self-restraint is what makes him so admirable. Honestly, I preferred the days of “Interview with the Vampire” where vampires weren’t showing any particular self-restraint (and Brad Pitt is much sexier than Robert Pattinson).

It’s not hard for me to accept the teenage-girl obsession with Twilight – after all, aren’t these obsessions a teenage rite-of-passage? What’s hard for me to understand is Twi-moms – women in their 30s and older who are obssessed with Twilight. This article suggests that Twilight is a form of nostalgia – a way for these women to re-live their innocent youths. All of this just continues to suggest that there is something wrong with sex, something wrong with growing older and losing some of that virginal, teenage innocence.  The article also points out that the Twilight novels are perhaps the first novels that many women have read from cover-to-cover in years. I’m all for reading, but this fact makes me very sad. Why does it take mediocre literature (Twilight, The DaVinci Code) to get people to sit down and read?

Finally, I think the Twilight phenomenon just further illustrates the dearth of intelligent films that are geared toward women. While my friend Lindsay made a good point that it is nice that “Twilight” was written and directed by women, I don’t want to have to turn to vampire films geared toward tweens to satisfy my craving for a romantic movie. I watched “Out of Africa” recently, and that sad (cinematically beautiful) story, about real live adult humans falling in love, and (gasp!) having sex, was much more satisfying than watching a glittering vampire and a teenage girl staring at each other melodramatically for two hours.

I will see “New Moon” (although certainly not on opening weekend), because I’m curious to see how this ridiculous story continues. But I’ll be the person sitting in the back silently wishing that he just bites her already and she becomes some totally bad-ass vampire.

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I made these delicious chocolate chocolate mint-chocolate chip cookies tonight.

photo

 

I used this recipe from Food.com and I added Tollhouse Mint + Dark Chocolate Chips instead of just regular chocolate chips. They’re perfect for the holiday season!

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Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) (a UCLA law grad!) speaks out against the Stupak Amendment, and does a great job explaining why it will limit access and harm healthcare for women and girls.

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imagesThere is nothing that angers me more than men making decisions that greatly affect the choices of women. When it happened with the partial birth abortion ban, we all were quick to attribute the awful decision to Bush being in the White House, but now Obama is here, and nothing has really changed.

The Stupak Amendment, which was added to the healthcare bill, which just passed in the House, prohibits anyone receiving federal health care coverage from buying plans that cover abortion. This means that it will be even harder for women to access abortion.

I am not going to spend this post talking about all the reasons why a woman might need an abortion that go beyond the “irresponsible, unprotected sex” narrative. And, never having had an abortion, I certainly don’t feel that ist is my place to explain how abortion is not a decision that most women take lightly – there are many people who have explained it more eloquently and truthfully than I can. Instead, I would like to take a minute to point out that political moves like the Stupak Amendment demonstrate exactly why women are still considered second class citizens, women’s bodies still are considered to be of much less value than men’s, and that we have a far way to go before women truly have equality in this country. Men should not be making these decisions, and men should certainly not be writing these amendments and arguing that women should not be having an abortion. Until men can get pregnant, they will have no idea what it feels like to have bodily autonomy slowly stripped away.

I know that this healthcare bill, if it is enacted, will be an incredible step forward, but I am sick of women being the casualties of “progress.” I sincerely hope that while the bill is debated in the Senate women (and our pro-choice male allies) continue to push for this amendment to be removed, to not continue to make sacrifices that compromise the autonomy of women in this country. And, I hope that Obama takes a stand against this amendment. I have yet to be convinced that he truly meant what he said during his campaign. I have yet to believe that he will dedicate any greater attention to women in this country than presidents in the past.  I still have hope, but if this bill passes in the Senate with the Stupak amendment in tact, I will certainly not be celebrating, because it will just mean that I do not merit the same respect as my fellow male citizens.

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