Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Beating of a Transgender Woman


Summary: A woman (transgender) tried to use the bathroom at a McDonalds in Baltimore, and she got the crap beat out of her by two women. No one helped her until a little old lady came and told them to stop hitting her. There were other people there.

I don't think there is anyone -- or rather any rational, sane, intelligent individual -- that could argue that this is wrong. If you're reading this, and you are going to argue that it is wrong, please share your perspective in my comments section and kindly never visit my blog again.

I feel very strongly about gay, trans, straight, bi, etc sexual and personal rights. I'm not sure why -- I think it started when I went to a women's college (that was not attended by all women) from Arizona. I saw things I had not previously given any thought to -- lesbian couples, trans-students, asexual students, bisexual students. I honestly didn't really notice until a friend of mine pointed out how many different sexualities there were at Wellesley (for those of you who know me, this is not surprising as I frequently wander around in my own little brain-bubble of cartoons and science).

Then I read this book -- And the Band Played On by Randy Shilts for a women's studies class I took. If you haven't read it, I highly recommend it. It's a thorough history of the 1980s HIV/AIDS crisis that struck the population, spread to drug users, etc. I honestly couldn't put the book down -- the number of injustices that the gay population faced by the local, state, and federal system was astounding. No one would listen to the AIDS problem as long as it was affecting those "sinners." People died, research moved at a staggeringly slow pace because no one would fund the "gay disease." Anyways -- that book really got me thinking about how far the gay community has come, and how many injustices it has faced along the way. Basically, if you are anything by straight-as-an-arrow straight, you have faced some serious discrimination.

Anyways, then I did a paper on the biological basis of homosexuality (in men primarily), and found a CRAP LOAD of evidence for it. Seriously there are strong links in genetics, in fetal hormone levels, etc. Studies that basically provide solid evidence that there are deep roots for homosexuality in biology that people have known since the early 1990s. So why then, has no one listened? Why wasn't Don't Ask, Don't Tell repealed earlier? Why is it only now that DOMA is not getting presidential support? We don't discriminate against individuals who are born any other way -- so why discriminate against homosexuals? (e.g. You'll never hear someone say: "Ahh! Kill her, she's a three-nippled  fiend! She should have fought her odd third nub in utero!")

It's just fascinating how, when something does not jive with what we usually see, know, or believe then it must automatically be wrong. I know that much of this hate and intolerance is fostered by religion.While I myself am atheist, I believe that you can be a good Christian, Muslim, Jew, etc. without believing that God would damn all those who are homosexuals/trans/bi/etc. Because evidence indicates that sexuality is something you are born with, and no merciful God would make that something to torture you in life, on pain of damnation in the afterlife.

Nope -- doesn't make sense.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Chocolate Cupcakes with Avocado Buttercream Frosting

Yes! My teaching certification portfolio is complete! I just have to go turn it in...but before I did that...I decided to reward myself. This is a special day that will go down in history texts everywhere -- the day I do not have continue to think about my teaching certification (at least until they decide if I passed in July...)So I needed to make some cupcakes, but not just any...chocolate with avocado buttercream. I saw something similar on Joy the Baker, so I figured, I'd try it. Although, her recipe was vegan, I un-veganized it. I'm a vegetarian, but I love my dairy products...

So the star of the whole thing was the avocado buttercream. It was A-M-A-Z-I-N-G. Seriously. By itself, it was like oh, okay, that's an interesting flavor, but with the chocolate cupcake -- awesome. So please, if you're worried about it, don't be. If you like avocados, you'll like this. Even if you don't like avocados -- you'll probably like this.

My oh my, what are those over there? Besides my shoes...

Oh...they're green, and chocolate-y

Good lord they're beautiful.

There were originally TWO plates. Yep, I need to go to the gym.

Chocolate Buttermilk Cupcakes
From Martha Stewart

0.75 cups all purpose flour
0.75 cups sugar
1 tsp. baking powder
0.5 tsp baking soda
0.25 tsp salt
6 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
3 tbsp unsalted butter, melted
6 tbsp buttermilk
1 large egg
1 large egg white
3 tbsp hot water

Heat up the oven to 350 degrees.

Combine flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, and baking soda in a bowl and set aside.

Mix the hot water and the cocoa powder in another bowl. This helps bring out the flavor of the chocolate (seriously). The add in the butter, and eggs, and whisk together. Then add in the buttermilk, and whisk.

Mix the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients slowly. After each addition of dry ingredients, make sure to mix well.

Then line a cupcake tin with liners. If you're using a regular size cupcake tin, bake between 12-15 minutes, depending on how moist you like them.

If you're using a mini cupcake tin (my new obsession), then bake for 7 minutes. They come out FANTASTIC.

Anyways, while they're baking, you get to make the avocado buttercream. I got the recipe from Alton Brown.

Avocado Buttercream Frosting

2 medium size avocados, pitted and scooped into a bowl
2 tsp. lemon juice
1 lb. powdered sugar, sifted (you don't want lumps)
0.5 tsp vanilla extract
0.5 cup butter, softened

With an electric mixer, or whisk, cream the avocados until there are no lumps, and it looks creamy. Mix in the lemon juice and the butter. Cream until smooth. Slowly add in the powdered sugar until its completely incorporated. Then add in the vanilla, and mix. And viola! You have avocado buttercream. Don't worry -- it doesn't go brown.


Friday, April 15, 2011

Tasty Breakfast

Biscuits with poached eggs over beet greens

So, Saturday morning is arguably my favorite time of the week. I can wake up leisurely without an alarm...T- and I can peacefully make breakfast that usually includes coffee and omlettes. But last weekend I decided to indulge. I got up and made buttermilk biscuits and poached an egg over beet greens.

If you've never had beat greens, they are absolutely delicious. T- and I are apart of a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) and they have been providing us with seriously tasty organic veggies. Recently we've been getting beets, and attached to them are their greens. I was about to throw them away when T- judiciously suggested I save them, and we could could them up like kale or chard or spinach.

So as my biscuits were cooking up, chopped up the beet greens cracked two eggs on top and steamed the whole thing. Two words: flipping awesome. The beet greens had a subtle flavor...they weren't bitter or stringy, just soft and flavorful...but I can't really describe the flavor.

Super delicious, super healthy -- especially with the biscuits (which are great with some butter and brown sugar). 

Buttermilk Biscuits (modified from Alton Brown)

2 cups of flour
4 tsp. baking powder
0.25 tsp baking soda
0.75 tsp. salt
1 tbsp. brown sugar
2 tbsp. butter, cold
2 tbsp. shortening
1 cup buttermilk

Preheat oven, 450

Whisk together the dry ingredients. Cut in the butter and the shortening. Make sure that the butter is chilled. Mix it in with your hands -- it'll make it easier to make it into crumbly pieces. Pour in the buttermilk in the middle of the flour mixture and stir it together into until it forms a sticky ball.

Pull the dough ball out onto a floured surface, and spread it out into a 1 in. round. Use either a biscuit cutter or a glass to cut out biscuits shapes. Bake for 15 - 20 min.

Greens with Eggs

Any greens you have (kale, chard, beet greens etc) 
1 clove garlic
0.25 part of medium red onions
2 eggs 

Wash and cut up the greens. It can be any greens really...I'm not sure how spinach would do, but I know kale, chard, and beet greens turn out great. In a medium saute pan, saute up the garlic and onions with some olive oil (you don't need to do this if you don't like garlic and onions). After they turn clear-ish, toss in the greens, and turn down the heat to medium-heat. Add a tablespoon or two of water and cover the greens. 

Cook them for about three minutes. After that crack two eggs on top and cover them again. Cook until the yellows of the eggs are fully cooked, or as cooked as you want them. 

You can just pour it out on a plate, and add a biscuit...perfect breakfast! 


Tuesday, April 5, 2011

President Obama 2012

So over time I've come to realize that I am quite a strong democrat. I believe that every one deserves healthcare, I believe that taxes are a great way to pay for things like our roads, our military, and heck, our education. I believe in a sliding scale taxation process, where the rich are taxed quite heavily, while the poor and middle class are taxed less. I really like government programs like Medicare/Medicaid and WIC. I believe that the government has no right to be in our bedrooms, and everyone deserves equal rights. I believe that we, as a nation, have a responsibility to take care of even our smallest, poorest, and sickest citizens.

So, you would think I'd be happy about Obama 2012, right? I am in many ways I guess -- after all, it will be a cold day in hell before I vote Republican in 2012 since, to me, they have gone off the deep end recently...pandering to the far right. But...I'm mad at the President.

Why won't he speak up? Why won't he tout the things he has accomplished? Or at the very least discredit the right? Tell the world that they are lying! They are actually making things up. Why won't he speak up?

I need to be reminded of the good things he's done and he's done some pretty good things...to name a few:

1. 789 Billion in stimulus money -- in my opinion, not enough, but it will have a lasting impact on job creation, and dramatically slow down the recession.

2. Saved GM. You know General Motors? You know, that company that is the backbone of the American automotive industry? Yeah, that one. Yeah, he saved them. He had them restructure before bailing them out too...he's a smart one.

3. Shifted the war focus from Iraq to Afganistan...'nuff said. Oh yeah, and I believe he's providing better armor to our soldiers, because...I don't know, sometimes they get shot at I think?

4. Signed a bill to stop torture at Guantanamo. Let me re-type that for you, torture. T-O-R-T-U-R-E. Yeah, that thing that the last president, whose party affiliation won't be named, turned a blind eye to.

5. Increased student loans. Isn't a bit ridiculous that a college education -- that thing that expands our minds, and makes us critical thinkers for the future -- is so expensive? Is it reserved for only the wealthiest of our nation? Nope. He made it more likely for students to be able to afford college.

6. More federal funding for science research labs. You know, for the lab that brought you Viagra! And also Lipitor. But seriously, money for science research is huge -- it's where the next innovation comes from, the latest breakthroughs in drug therapy.

7. Made the environment a top priority in lots of ways: his clean energy projects to develop wind/solar/ocean energy, regulating CO2 emissions, and more.

8. Signed the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act of 2009 into law, basically extending the amount of time that you can rule on a gender pay discrimination cases (any law people out there -- if I'm wrong on this, correct me).

9. Oh yeah, let's not forget healthcare. The poorest of our nation, the poorest, the sickest, and the most in need cannot receive healthcare for the following simple reason: it's too expensive. Either they have pre-existing medical conditions, or they just plain old can't afford it, many Americans don't have the coverage they need. Yeah, there's Medicare and Medicaid, but what if you're over the poverty line, which is shocking lower than where it needs to be? What if you're in that population that makes 40K a year with cancer? Our President spent his first year or so in office pushing through a bill that made it so that everyone, every single person in the United States, would be covered by health insurance. It would be illegal for insurance companies to discriminate based on prior illnesses, and every person had to buy health insurance. This, to me, seems like a logical, amazing thing.

I was baffled by the blatant lies about "death panels" and rationing healthcare that flew from Republican mouths...the strong backlash. Doesn't everyone deserve healthcare? From the 50 year old alcoholic on the street, to the 50 year old teacher with cancer and gallbladder issues that makes 50k a year and works damn hard for her money. Yeah, this President thought they all deserved to have their health looked after. So he did that.

So, if you needed to be reminded, like I did, what President Obama has done for us, please read that list above. He's a quiet President, too quiet. He lets the Republicans and the crazy Tea Partiers spew lies directly into the public ears without so much as a fight. The people will listen to the only voice they hear Mr. President, and right now, that's not yours. I want to support you, I will support you, but I want to win. I want to win because they scare me. So, Mr. President, where are you???

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Cherry Vanilla Almond Cupcakes with Cherry Almond Buttercream!

Better home and garden would be PROUD! So yesterday T- and I were sitting in Borders and doing that thing that's making them go out of business -- reading in their store without buying anything. I just bought myself an iced tea latte and when a cupcake book caught my eye...

My good lord, there were elephant cupcakes, cupcakes with ingredients I would never have thought of (orange creamsicle cupcake?), and then...these pink, lovely beauties caught my eye. Cherry...tasty, Vanilla...perfection for summer...and Almond...delectable.

Ergo, today I made them...and man alive are they good! Like...abnormally good. Like, I was actually reluctant to share these with my neighbors kind of good. Like I was eating buttercream frosting out of the pipping bag kind of good. Well, shoot me, I have self-restraint. Whatevs.

Make them. NOW.

Well hello ladies.

Has anyone ever told you you're beautiful?

Or tasty goodness?

Cherry-Vanilla-Almond Cupcakes (modified from Better Home and Garden)


0.5 cup butter
4 egg whites
2 cups all purpose flour
1 tsp. baking powder
0.5 tsp. baking soda
0.5 tsp salt
0.75 buttermilk (this is super important...it's what makes the cupcakes fluffy-like)
0.33 cup Maraschino Cherry Juice
1 cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla
0.5 tsp almond extract

Preheat oven to 350F

Let the butter and eggs come to room temperature so the mixture won't be so cold. In a separate bowl, mix together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt.

Then cream together the butter, add in the sugar, then add in the vanilla and mix well. Add in an egg white at a time, beating well after each addition. 

In a separate bowl, mix together the buttermilk and maraschino cherry juice. 

Now add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients in increments, mixing well after each addition. 

Bake for 15-18 minutes, stick a fork in 'em to make sure they're cooked. 

Meanwhile! Make the buttercream by taking:

0.5 cup room temp. butter
3.5 cups of powdered sugar
3 tblspn. maraschino cherry juice
0.5 tsp almond extract

Cream butter until its super soft. Then add in one cup of sugar, creaming it well. Add in the cherry juice and the almond extract and mix well. Then slowly add in the rest of the sugar. Make sure you're beating it really well because you want to get the butter-sugar mixture aerated so it gets fluffy. If you have an electric mixer...more power to you, make sure you're mixing it well. If you don't, well, it'll build your arm muscle!

Frost it with a 1M star tip, and add a maraschino cherry on top, and some pretty red sugar crystals and you're good to go.

Or well...no, take a glass of milk, put some ice cubes in it (since it's flipping 90 degrees here), get on your back porch with your stupid mutt whose trying to eat your cupcake and drink your milk at the same time, and take a big bite out of your work of art, and follow it up with a swig of milk. Now you're good to go ;-)