Thursday, June 30, 2011

Five Saudi Women Are Arrested For Driving. Should We Invade?

On Tuesday, June 28th, five women in Saudi Arabia were arrested by their religious police for driving cars. Saudi Arabia is the only country in the world where it is illegal for women to drive indeed a basic human rights violation. What have we heard from the world’s leaders about it? Are they advocating an invasion? Except for Hillary Clinton and a few other women leaders in Europe verbalizing that they support the Saudi women’s right to drive campaign, I haven’t heard or read anything from anyone else. This silence speaks for itself. Could it perhaps be because of the Saudi oil supply? Hmm. I wonder.
Meanwhile, back in the USA, I have taken a completely unscientific survey. Based on my own observations (anecdotal evidence at best), I report that when men and women are in a car together, at least 90% of the time, the man is driving. Even in America, driving seems to be controlled by men to some extent. Of course it isn't as bad here as in Saudi Arabia. We're allowed to drive ourselves around. Readers, why do you suppose that is? I’d love to hear your speculations. Is it a worldwide male conspiracy or what?

In solidarity with Saudi women, let's not cook tonight. This week I won't include a recipe. In most parts of the world including ours, cooking seems to be a woman's domain most of the time. It seems that the feminist revolution isn't over yet. 


Thursday, June 16, 2011

Are We Still Running On Empty? Again? And Another Recipe

When Running On Empty was released in 1988, I avoided going to see it. It was too soon after the Vietnam War so I was afraid viewing it would be pouring salt on barely scabbed wounds. After seeing it yesterday, I realized that it was still too soon. The story focuses on the Pope family living with the consequences of actions the parents had taken in 1971 and the resulting family dynamics between the parents and their teenage and preteen sons. Almost 25 years later, it is possible to focus on this family living underground on the run rather than on the larger political situation of the 1960’s and ‘70’s.

Nevertheless, Running On Empty directed by Sidney Lumet made enough reference to the War in Vietnam to bring all the memories of the war returning in a torrent. I felt the fury all over again that I felt as we protested again and again and again with no tangible results. I reflected on that as I compared this period to our current public reaction to the wars in Iraq, Afghanistan, and now Libya which have provoked a mere ripple of questioning. Where is the outrage? Am I still running on empty that I’m not feeling it?

The War in Afghanistan has been going on for 10 years and now, after Osama Bin Laden has been killed, the question of US troops remaining there is being debated. Yes, I feel terrible for the women who live there, but there are countries all over the world that are Hell on Earth for women to live in. We aren’t sending American troops to all of them and indeed, we can’t. There are countless countries with oppressive governments that we choose not to invade for practical and political reasons. Have we not learned the lesson of Vietnam – that we can’t be the world’s policemen imposing democracy, however noble an ideal it is, on people who don’t want it?

When running on empty, people often turn inward. A good distraction when we feel we're unable to change the world is to cook a healthy meal. And so I did. This is my recipe for turkey meatballs. It serves 4 and preparation time is about 20 minutes.

                                                     Lisa’s Turkey Meatballs
1 pound ground turkey meat
1 egg
¼ cup breadcrumbs
¼ red pepper and ¼ green pepper diced
garlic powder, parsley to taste
3 tablespoons of olive oil
½ cup tomato sauce
1 teaspoon capers
½ tablespoon lemon juice
½ tablespoon minced garlic

Mix the turkey meat and the next 4 ingredients. Shape into one inch balls. Heat the olive oil in a deep pan. Sear the turkey meatballs on all sides for about two minutes. Remove from pan. Remove any remaining oil from the pan.

Replace the meatballs in the pan. Add the remaining ingredients to the pan. Cook on medium heat for about 45 minutes.
      It’s good served on couscous with grilled asparagus on the side.


    Thursday, June 9, 2011

    A Recipe for Retirement Eludes Many

    I recently reached a milestone that’s fast becoming out of reach for many. I was able to retire. I left work with mixed feelings about it as I said good-by to people whom I have known for over 15 years. I’ve been a social worker at a center for developmentally challenged adults. When many of my co-workers said that they will never be able to retire, I felt guilty for my good fortune.
    Wondering if many people throughout the USA feel they’ll never retire, I checked some polls. I have never been asked to participate in a poll and I don’t know anyone who has. Thus, I don’t have too much faith in their efficacy. I’ve always wondered how people get chosen to be in them, but I didn’t want my small sample to speak for everyone. Lacking a better choice, I checked out some polls.

    According to a poll done by the American Institute of CPA’s in April, 20ll, four out of ten people say they will never be able to retire. According to World Countries News, which claims its source is NPR, one in four baby boomers say they will never be able to retire. According to a Gallup Poll also from April 2011, only 41% of people feel they would have enough money to retire comfortably and 53% would never retire.

     It seems that people who feel financially able to retire are becoming scarcer. Does it have to do with our growing economic inequality? Just maybe. I had planned to volunteer as a way to give back anyway and this makes the need more urgent. Nevertheless, there are so many volunteer choices that I am going to take the next few months to decide how I want to spend my volunteer time. Any suggestions are welcome. I’ll talk about any good suggestions in this space.       

     In this relaxed mood, I tried a new easy recipe for pasta and roast vegetables that I got from the Chicago Tribune. It serves 4 and takes about 20 minutes to prepare.

                                              Pasta with Roasted Vegetables

    ¼ cup olive oil
    1 medium eggplant cut into 11/2 inch cubes
    4 cloves of garlic peeled and smashed
    freshly ground pepper, basil, oregano, and garlic powder to taste
    4 small zucchini in 1-inch cubes
    2 medium red onions, halved, sliced an inch thick
    1 pint grape tomatoes
    8 ounces short pasta
    ½ cup grated parmesan cheese

    Preheat the oven to 425. Drizzle olive oil on a baking sheet and put in the oven while preheating. Put seasoning on all the vegetables.

    Meanwhile, put up water to boil for the pasta. When the water is boiled, add pasta to boil.

    After the oven is preheated, put the eggplant and garlic on the baking sheet to cook. About 10 minutes later, add the other vegetables. Cook for another 10 minutes.

    Drain the pasta. Put back in pot. Add the cooked vegetables and the grated cheese. Voila!


    Thursday, June 2, 2011

    Increased Gambling In Illinois - Another Half-Baked Recipe

    When Illinois started the Illinois State Lottery, the powers that be said that the revenues from it would help to fund education throughout the state. That never did come to pass, however, and this year, an additional $171 million is threatened to be slashed from Illinois schools. To make up the funding gap, legislators have passed a law to allow more gambling in Chicago and throughout Illinois.

    Will the increased tax revenue from the additional casinos make up the funding difference? I doubt it. It may even create additional problems once people have even more opportunities to lose their money. It seems to me to be yet another regressive tax. After all, who will be more likely to spend fortunes at the casinos than those with little or nothing to lose, hoping desperately to win the solution to their financial problems by gambling away what they have?

    Just in case increased gambling doesn’t solve our problems, a March On Hunger is planned in Chicago on Saturday, June 25th. It will be held at Soldier’s Field and step-off time is 8:15 AM. Money raised will go to the Greater Chicago Food Depository. I have a feeling they’ll still need the money so if you have time, walk with them. For more information, you can contact the Tov Network or the Greater Chicago Food Depository

    All this talk of hunger can make you hungry. Here’s another quick, easy and very filling recipe from Peace de Resistance for eggplant parmesan. It feeds 4 to 6 people and takes about 20 minutes to prepare.

                                                                   Eggplant Parmesan

    1 eggplant cut in slices
    1 pound chopped beef
    2 cans tomato sauce
    dried parsley, sweet basil, salt, garlic powder, oregano to taste
    mozzarella cheese shredded or cut in very small pieces
    grated parmesan cheese

    Preheat the oven to 350 Fharenheit. 
    Steam the eggplant slices in a pot on medium heat for about 10 minutes.
    While the eggplant is steaming, mix the tomato sauce with the seasoning.
    Sauté the meat in olive oil. Drain the fat. Then add to the sauce.
    In a casserole dish, put a layer of eggplant, layer of sauce, layer of mozzarella cheese. Sprinkle top with parmesan cheese.
    Bake for 45 minutes.