Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Pestos! Pestos! Pestos!

So with all the greens I've gotten from my CSA and my garden, I've had to think of ways to eat them. I mean, yes, you can steam or saute them or have them in salads but after a while you want something new. Or I want something new.

I had heard somewhere that you could make a decent pesto from them and I wanted to give it a whirl. And you know what? Greens make for a great pesto!

I did it first with spinach. I used spinach, garlic, a handful of chopped walnuts, and olive oil (and a little water since I used a mini blender). It was creamy and flavorful and a treat. I made it twice--once for me, and once for me and Garden Dude, my neighbor.

Then I got my CSA share. That included spinach and kale. Hmmmm, I thought. I know spinach makes for a nice pesto but what about kale. . .?

Well, here's the news: Kake makes a freaking fantastic pesto. Honestly, I don't know why people stick kale in soups. You can make a kimchi like thing with it. You can saute it. You can make it into chips. You can throw it into a smoothie if you have the right kind of blender. It's pretty darn good in salads. And in pesto it's sublime. The slight bitterness with the pungency of garlic and the floral notes of olive oil make it a wonderfully simple to make yet complex-tasting dish.

And here's the great thing about pestos: You don't have to eat them on pasta. They are good for sandwich spreads. They are nice on fish or beans (paired with more greens on the side because come on people, eat your greens). Pestos add some color and punch to skillet meals like pilafs. I'll bet you could put some in a soup (I haven't tried this yet but I will.) Put some on omelettes or scrambled eggs. They dress up a baked potato or a nice sauce for a casserole (I'm thinking of a recipe I saw for a potato casserole with pesto).

Monday, June 13, 2016

An open letter to the fundamentalist Christians who are screaming about ISIS after Orlando

Hi! You all have been posting up a storm about ISIS, and a mean, craptastic Imam who advocated death for gays. You all have been sounding the horns about the Islamic threat and offering thoughts, prayers, and moments of silence for the lesbian, bisexual, gay, and trans people who were murdered at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando, FL.

I have a request: Put the rock down and tend to your own glass house.

I do not want to hear any more people dragging Muslims. I have heard things about the guy who did it and I don't know what is true or how accurate it is. I have heard that he pledged his life to ISIS (a group that most Muslims despise). I have heard that he was as Muslim as I was Catholic-ostensibly so, by birth, but not particularly devout. I know this: the rhetoric he heard about LBGT people, the attitude he held towards them, was parroted and echoed among ostensible Christians.

But that's not fair! I have heard people (including relatives) cry out. We don't consider people like the Westboro Baptist Church real Christians. Yeah? Most Muslims don't consider ISIS to be real Muslims, yet there you were, loud and wrong, on social media, talking about how "they" like to throw "people" (or maybe "gays" if you're feeling like acknowledging that) off of buildings. In the areas ISIS took over.

What I don't hear is any acknowledgement of major figures in conservative Christian circles--respectable figures, figures who can count Senators and Representatives as friends--as helping to write the Kill The Gays law in Uganda. Ted Cruz, Mike Huckabee (who has an unearned reputation for being a nice guy), and Bobby Jindal spoke at a conference headed by a pastor who advocated for the execution of LBGT people. They did this as Republican Presidential candidates. They were proud to be at a conference where the head of the conference openly advocated for this.

Think about that. Golly, I wonder where the idea that it was okay to kill people at a gay club came from? Maybe stop freaking out about Muslim imams who say these things and look at the other Christians who preach and support these same attitudes.

Motes, beams, and eyes.

And you'll protest. Oh, you say, I don't have a hateful bone in my body! I don't hate anyone! 

Right, but you're indifferent enough that you either don't know or don't care that well-known pastors, who are considered to be quite respectable in conservative Christian circles-advocate for this garbage.

Maybe you don't hate anyone but you want your gay teen sent to a camp to be reeducated as a straight person. Because you love the sinner but hate the sin. Except that your gay teen is learning that if they are not conforming to what you think they should be, you will not love them. You will reject them. You will hurt them.

Maybe you don't hate anyone but you think same sex couples shouldn't marry, that they are somehow a threat to your own marriage or marriage in general. And if that means they don't have the same legal protections that you have, well, that's just tough. It's only a piece of paper, you'll say, though you'd be outraged if you hadn't had the legal right to marry your spouse. Spouses have legal protections that common-law partners do not. Ask anyone who was kicked out of the house they lived in with their partner until their partner died. Ask anyone whose partner was in the hospital. 

Maybe you don't hate anyone but you think that same sex couples should not adopt children. You don't hate them but they are obviously sick and disordered and will hurt the children. You are filled with love! So much love that you'd keep a couple from adopting a child simply because they were both of the same gender.

Maybe you don't hate anyone but you think trans people should use the bathroom of the sex they were assigned at birth. After all, men will assault women in the women's room, right? Let's forget that actually, these are women who were born in the wrong body--yes, it's a thing, and yes, I believe them. Let's also forget that when women are sexually assaulted, many people will tell us we were asking for it by making bad choices, lecture us about dressing modestly, and assert that men are sex-crazed hosebeasts who cannot control their urges. And that makes me think men shouldn't be allowed out of the house if it's true but that's another post. 

You don't hate anybody but you are convinced that gays molest children (while shrugging off, covering up, and excusing actual child molesters). You don't hate anybody but you are convinced that gays are an abomination. You don't hate anybody but you nod along while the pastor in your church talks about the sins of homosexuality and how you have to fight against things like their right to marry. You don't hate anybody but you don't want that gay couple living in your neighborhood. You don't hate anybody but you think gays are sick and disordered.

A conservative fundamentalist imam says the same thing, and suddenly you all are outraged. Well, save your crocodile tears, you aren't fooling anyone. And might I remind you, that the majority of men who have done this have been white and have been ostensibly Christian. George Sodhini. Eric Rudolph. Dylan Roof. Charles Roberts IV. Adam Lanza. John Salvi.

I don't care about love or hate. I care about the fact that militant fundamentalist Christians in this country have been just fine with dragging LBGT people, working to erode their rights, and promoting horrific violence against them based on the Bible. You don't get to ignore that. You don't. And you don't get to ignore the other atrocities here, committed by mainly white men, mainly men who were Christian. Who called themselves Christians. 

I wasn't surprised by Orlando. We have had too many of these crimes for me to be surprised. I'm disgusted and I'm angry and I am really, really tired of the manufactured outrage some of you in my feeds, in my life, have ginned up against Muslims when your own are not any better.

Save your thoughts and prayers. Instead, just do better. 

Garden news

So, I tried some new things this year, and as per usual, have had some hits and some misses.

First, I planted spinach, mustard greens, and arugula. They did quite well but started to flower fairly soon (it was still cool outside and I was all OMG ARE YOU KIDDING ME). Fear not, I managed to eat them all. Mustard is great sauted. Arugula is quite nice with scrambled eggs or thrown in with pasta. Spinach is also good that way, put into smoothies, or made into a pesto.

I planted poppy seeds in a space that my neighbor tilled for me. Nothing came up. Despairing, I bought some flowers to plant today and I saw some seedling. Huh. What to do?? I'm still thinking on it. I could leave that half alone and plant the flowers in the other half of the space.

I planted peas. Fun fact: You should plant them densely and trellis them early. Don't be a lazy jerk like yours truly.

I planted turnips. They're a little crowded, but I like them a little small since they're tender. Also, I'm pulling the greens and eating them (also quite tasty as a side with scrambled eggs. Yes, I've been eating a lot of eggs lately).

I planted beet seeds and they are doing. . .eh. Not great. I may have to put some beans in there instead.

I have planted beans in other parts of the garden. That's a pretty good all purpose, "What do I plant when the other stuff has gone by and I want to replenish the soil" plant. These are string beans. They are also known in my lexicon as "snacking as I work in the garden beans" since they do not make it back to the house.

I planted--or my neighbor planted--chard and collards. The chard's doing well, the collards are a little slow but doing okay. Time will tell.

My garlic keeps coming back, so yay?

Of course I planted tomatoes and hot peppers. I got a couple of heirloom tomatoes from my neighbor, and my father gave me early girl seedlings. I'm not bothering with romas since let's face it, I'm not going to make sauce this summer. Last summer was pretty crazy and I ate every tomato as soon as it was ripe (romas were made into instant quick sauce, so. . .)

I moved my rhubarb plant to my raised bed and it's not going gangbusters. The plants I had in my old community garden plot at my old job are taking over the earth. These? They're small. Maybe it needs to be fed. We'll see.

My New Zealand Spinach came back so if you ever want to plant that, keep in mind that you will have it forever. I don't mind as I like it.

My neighbor--who I will call Garden Dude from now on--gave me a raspberry plant (which I will keep in a large planter because HOLY HELL THOSE THINGS ARE INVASIVE), a couple of currant plants, a blueberry plant, and a strawberry plant. Garden Dude has chickens and gave me some slightly composted straw from the coop to mulch with. So far the plants like it.

I also have a makeshift bin for my grass clippings made from metal posts and chicken wire.

And because I am a realist, I rejoined my CSA. The farmer is a wiseacre. His note about this week's share was: "A bag of leaves. You pay money to join our CSA and you get a bag of leaves."

Monday, January 11, 2016

Don't work for free

Once, I submitted a query to write for an online comedy site. I asked about their pitching process. I got a reply from an intern, with my name misspelled, instructing me to send ten pitches, that maybe they would accept one, and that if they did I wouldn't get paid for the piece I'd be asked to write. But I'd get exposure!

Hey, you know where I can write for free and get exposure? And I don't have to pitch a blessed thing? Right here. On my blog. I can even set up another blog if I want to.

If someone's pitch is good enough to accept and someone's writing is good enough to publish, they should be good enough to pay. I get that sites don't have millions, especially those starting out, but even a token amount says you value what someone's doing.

And it's not just writing where I've run into this.

I have been approached several times by people I know about doing freelance work. But as it turns out, in many cases they thought I would work for free. The minute I mentioned a contract or my hourly rate they decided to skip it. (Yes, a contract. I learned the hard way that without one of those, you can get jerked around and have your time wasted.)

Now, that's their right. But here's the thing: I have hired friends to do work for me. I paid them because their time and their labor and their expertise has worth. If I didn't want to pay it, I wouldn't waste their time.

What I do in my full-time job requires either resources that cost money or, short of those things, a lot of time. If you want the job done quickly, you need resources. Either way, it will cost you. So if your organization needs someone who does what I do, be willing to pay. (I'm not willing to shoestring it because frankly, I don't have the time to do that. I'll use the resources that cost money and get it done in two hours as opposed to ten.)

So here's my advice.

Don't work for free. I'll admit, I'm sensitive about this, since women are often expected to go above and beyond for free. Don't do this. Do not volunteer in your field of expertise unless you're a billionaire and don't need the money. Do not do this if you are a college student or a new job seeker or a career changer and are looking to get a foot in the door. You will work for free and you will not necessarily get anything in return down the road. You still have expenses (what? Your parents are going to cover for you? Come on.). You may end up in debt. And for what? The chance to give an organization to save a few bucks at your expense? That's a ripoff. It also hurts a lot of people who truly cannot afford internships--maybe a college student from an affluent family can afford it (thanks to the family covering their expenses), but a lot of people can't. It essentially shuts them out.

While we're at it, doing what you're well-versed in on a volunteer basis is, in my opinion, a bad idea. First, if it's your full-time job, doing it part time for free on top of your work week is not going to help you and may burn you out. Second, if an organization needs your expertise so much, they can pay for it. Yes, it's cold and harsh. So is the idea that your time isn't worth anything.

I say this because our labor has value. Our time has worth. And if a person or an organization does not agree, they can bloody well do without.

I'm not saying don't volunteer. I'll volunteer (when I have time, which isn't a typical thing these days) but I do things that are not in my field of expertise. I'll help out at rummage sales or do a clean up or something like that. My friend Steve enjoys cooking and cooks at a soup kitchen; I wouldn't tell him to stop that because he loves what he does. But he's also not working in a restaurant full time on top of that. He's doing something else to pay the bills. I will not do my full time job for free for anyone. That isn't going to happen.

I do not work for good feelings, or a higher power. My time is limited and if you want my labor and expertise it will cost you. And frankly, you should value your labor and your expertise and your time. If someone doesn't think it's worth paying for, don't do it. Your time is precious, and you can spend it doing other things.