What makes good literature?

An extremely good conversation in my literature class about intelligence (Inspired by Ted Chiang’s The Great Silence). We talked about other species that fall under the definition of intelligence, which is “the ability to understand and apply knowledge.” parrot.jpgConsidering Alex the Parrot and Koko the Gorilla, and other species: crows are problem solvers and remember faces. We discussed dogs, cats, and others. Is love, as an abstract idea, understood and applied by animals? And then – is intelligence found in showing love?

This is what good literature should do. Teach, delight, and create wonder.

Read The Great Silence here

What’s So Scary?

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“Don’t be afraid of failure.  The reality is that most people successes rise out of the ashes of their previous failures.”

From a new documentary on Netflix titled Creativity. The narrator is talking to the creator of Game of Thrones. The creator is talking about how many times he’s failed.

I started this to say – what are you afraid of?

Then I wanted to ask – what if there was no such thing as fear? What would you do? What could you do?

I want you to think about that. What if fear was not in the human range of emotion or thought?

 

Food Crimes: Gifting Times Two – Ethnic Recipes from my Friends.

john

Some years ago, John Voso Jr. put together a cookbook, Italian Recipes from my friends; the proceeds from which went to the Richie White Fund. Richie White was a young boy who spent most of his young life in the hospital battling cancer. He lost that battle a few days after his fourth birthday.

 

 

 

This year, John has put together Ethnic Recipes From My Friends. The proceeds benefit a number of good charities.

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The book contains JackFruit tacos. You’ll remember that some months ago, I tried JackFruit tacos at a vegan restaurant and loved them.

 

 

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When John Voso, his wife, Debbie, and myself met for dinner, I was surprised to find this recipe in the book! I, personally, can not wait to make them myself.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The book contains recipes from a number of different people and cultures:

Angel Wings from Poland, 45249898_10215606113699519_8495535016174944256_n

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sonoran Style Carne Asada, 44957040_10215568156710618_4786004417256095744_n

 

 

 

 

 

 

42876531_10215381572126120_7345769895918829568_nand don’t forget about dessert, A Nut Kuchen!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ethnic Recipes from My Friends will make a great gift and it supports great causes. Contact John Voso to order your copy!

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Food Crimes: Why Americans hate my scones…

To be clear – yes, I’m American (sometimes I feel I need to apologize for that these days) – but my tastes run to the less sweet side of what we consider sweets.

Scones… for instance.

The things you get at Starbucks are not really “scones” per se. breakfast_sweets_decoden_by_thepocketkawaii-d6z14ooThey are more like pastries, tarts, danishes, if you will.

True Scones are not made with a cup of sugar and jam already added.

The once Scottish, British usurped, Americanized scone became desirable as a more plain version of what we see in America. Although they’ve always been a touch sweeter and less flakier than biscuits, this pastry was more the base for slathering things on and siding  with coffee or tea. The topping to the taste of the person, balanced with drink (sweetened or not) of choice.

The British scone, lightly brushed with egg, usually contains very little sugar, sconesoccasionally a few currents or raisins. But the point of a good scone is to have a choice of cream, lemon curd, or jam, not a mystery filled fun fest for which consumers risk diabetes.

I discovered the lovely less sweet version in England. As I rarely eat pastries for breakfast, I found this a nice, healthier alternative to what is usually served at the continental breakfast.

I developed a love of scones when I did time at Cal State Chico in pursuit of my MFA. There was a little cafe, no longer there, which served warm scones made with fresh fruit. My jaunt over in the morning became a regular stop as I picked up a black tea and fresh out of the oven mango or apricot scone. (Even these were more biscuit-like, but still less sweet).

I won’t bother you with my own experiments with scones. I’ve won some, I’ve lost some. But I will tell you the ones I made this past weekend, part traditional, part Americanized, were the bomb!

Pistachio fig scones:42803096_2309289422433704_8343625948515532800_o

Less flour,

no sugar,

a brush of honey,

a teaspoon of coconut oil.

How Bananas Saved the World…

6 Good Reasons to Eat a Banana Today

Just Kidding.

But Bananas are considered the world’s perfect fruit because only 2% of people are allergic to them. However, sometimes, bananas can fool an allergy filled system. When my system is filled with allergens from other foods, bananas can make them momentarily worse. There’s been research on this – btw – not just making this up. It falls under a “cross reactive food.”

My daughter happens to be one of the people who are allergic to bananas, so I’ve accidentally poisoned her a number of times. (Wow, did I just admit child endangerment in public? She’s over 18, child services won’t do anything.) Don’t worry, she doesn’t go into anaphylactic shock or anything; she just gets a little itchy. We actually didn’t learn this until she was over 18. I’ve made recipes and added bananas, then didn’t think to warn her when she picked up the carrot cake or the brownies.

Other benefits of bananas include:

  • Vitamin B6 – .5 mg
  • Manganese – .3 mg
  • Vitamin C – 9 mg
  • Potassium – 450 mg
  • Dietary Fiber – 3g
  • Protein – 1 g
  • Magnesium – 34 mg
  • Folate – 25.0 mcg
  • Riboflavin – .1 mg
  • Niacin – .8 mg
  • Vitamin A – 81 IU
  • Iron – .3 mg

Helps with: digestion problems, heart disease (cause it’s high in fiber), and anemia.

Okay, so we’re actually getting to the real reason for this post. I made banana bread/muffins today and they were sooooo good, I had to share.

I’m an average cook. I’m pretty damn good at throwing things together and coming up with something pretty wonderful. (It runs in the family – you should try my mother’s cream-of-nothin’-soup) Therefore, measurements are approximate. I learned from my grandmother, who sometimes made the world’s best fudge; she believed you had to feel the recipe. Measuring cups are for suckas. (Hence, the “sometimes” in the world’s best fudge).

Okay, recipe with running commentary, and in relative order. (Don’t you hate that recipes list the ingredients in random ways?)

 

Banana Bread/Muffins

 

2 Eggs (that’s exact, but I didn’t say small, medium, or large; mine were medium brown).

A little more than 1/3 and less than a 1/2 cup of oil – the type of oil is important. Do NOT use vegetable oil! If you have that shit in your cabinet, toss it in the garbage now. The only thing crisco is good for is slipping off a too-tight ring. Do not put that crap in your in your baked goods. It’s not good for your body. If you’re trying to be healthy, why is that in your cabinet? I used about half coconut oil, half olive oil. And make sure that’s the real stuff too. Legally (?), they can sell oils that are actually mixed and label it as “pure.” Who passes these freaking laws? I know there’s a lot of information online about the good and bad of coconut oil, but here’s why I think it’s more good than bad.  Number one rule of health is to know what you’re putting into your body, folks!

1/3 ish a cup of Greek yogurt. Make sure it’s as close to Greek as possible. It’s not sweetened, it does not have cane sugar, fructose, etc. If you have problems with dairy, you could probably use coconut yogurt, but I’ve only ever seen that with added sugars; not sure how that will work. I used Fage brand because I like their ingredients above most of the things available on the American market.

1 tsp-ish of vanilla extract. (Although I prefer vanilla paste, I just haven’t found it lately. If you haven’t tried vanilla paste – it’s fabulous. So much better than the extract with alcohol, and you can use it straight in the greek yogurt, no alcohol taste!)

1/4 to 1/3 cup of honey.  Again – watch the honey. Do not buy that stuff in the bear jar. Legally (again with that ?), honey companies can add high fructose corn syrup and not list it on the label. Buy the stuff that’s real, do some research.

3 large ripe bananas.  Mmmmm….

Mix all those things up in a bowl. I, personally, like the bananas a little chunky.

Add the rest straight to this bowl. (Screw that whole whole bowl for wet, bowl for dry, bowl for spices. Please, who wants to do all those dishes?!)

Cinnamon. How much do you like cinnamon? I added like three or four healthy shakes from the container. I’m going to assume it was more than a half a tablespoon, probably less than a whole… but, when all was said and done, I felt it needed more anyway.

2 dashes of nutmeg and cloves (then I added an extra dash of cloves). Again, these are shakes from the container. I got all nostalgic for pumpkin pie. Mmmm.  I taste tested then because, well, because. And from there, it almost went no further. I really wanted to sit down with the bowl then and there.

Baking soda. Don’t add too much! That sucks. I did a dash and a half. Most people would do a half or full tsp. Do not do more than that.

1 and 1/2 to 1 and 3/4 cup of Flour – I used Almond Flour. Do not use that bleached white flour crap. Again, that goes into trash with the vegetable oil, and you better not have any of that white sugar in your cabinet either. Throw it away, throw it away now! White flour and white sugar products are poison to your system. As is that high fructose corn syrup. Don’t do that to your body. It better not even be out on your counter – if you’re one of those people who get all the ingredients out – how cute you are – but if you took that out, get rid of it now. Don’t let it near these muffins. Back to the flour now. Coconut flour is too sweet for this recipe. You can use oat flour. The almond flour will help this come out yummy and moist. Oat flour will be a little drier, but not too much so.

Walnuts. We know the rules by now, right? No salt, no sugar, just all natural, unmolested walnuts. Check the label. I used about a handful or more of the walnuts (Hey, I’m not cooking for anyone else, it’s okay if I put my hands in this stuff). Because I used almond flour, I didn’t want to use too many walnuts.  People with nut allergies are obviously going to use the oat flour and skip the walnuts, right?!

Raisins. Weird? I guess I was thinking breakfast cereal. Right?! We got cinnamon, nuts, raisins. I got crazy. And it was yummy.  Okay, so 2 handfuls of raisins.

Cook between 15-20 minutes for muffins and 30-40 minutes for bread at 325. Keep watch. Do not let them get too brown on top.

 

 

So, end results:  I decided against the bread and made muffins. As I said, I wish I’d added more cinnamon. But they were very moist and delicious. These will not last on your counter. If you’re going to have them for more than a day or two, put them in the fridge.

There you go: no butter, no sugar, no poison to your system. Tasty, healthy, nutritious muffins for breakfast or snacks.

Consider the ingredients in this – even the honey has nutritional benefits for your body sugar does not. Almonds have nutritional benefits, as does oat flour. All of these far outweigh anything white sugar or white flour can offer. White flour is like sugar to your system. So – the basic chocolate chip cookie – poison: white flour – sugar. white sugar – sugar. milk chocolate – sugar and fat. But, hey, the egg is good for you.

Much love and let me know how it goes!