Thursday, December 22, 2011

Lemon-Olive Oil Kale Salad

It's the holiday season, and if you're looking for a tasty side-dish that is gluten-free, healthy, and vegetarian...consider Kale salad.

My husband knows that I have a deep love of kale. I buy two bunches a week and cook it up fast with lemon and olive oil, and will it that before I even dig into dinner itself. It's my newest I take umbrage with any insult to the b-vitamin packed vegetable. So if you have anyone in your family that think they don't like kale, or even don't know what it is, prove them wrong with this salad! 
I took the recipe from my friend's blog, Laurie's Little Kitchen, and tried it primarily because I'm at home, and I always like to try new gluten-free dishes when I'm around my mom to what works and what doesn't! Hope y'all enjoy this and have a wonderful holiday season! 
Lemon-Olive Oil Kale Salad
modified from laurieslittlekitchen

2 bunches of green or red kale, washed and with the leaves cut of the stem
2 carrots, grated
0.5 cup slivered almonds
1.5 tbsp. lemon juice
2 tbsp. olive oil
0.5 tsp. salt
dash of hot sauce to taste
pepper to taste
optional -- zest of 1 lemon 

In your salad bowl, rip up the kale leaves by hand into small to medium size pieces. Add in the olive oil, salt, lemon juice into the bowl. Then use your hands and mix the oil, salt, and lemon juice into the leaves. You want to "massage" the leaves, scrunching them up a little bit, and you'll feel them start to soften. Laurie's blog has a good explanation of how to do it with some pictures.

When it's soft enough for you, add in the grated carrots, slivered almonds, hot sauce, pepper, and zest and mix into the salad with a spoon. 

Enjoy it on the side of a sandwich, pasta, or by itself!   

Monday, December 12, 2011

Repost: Being Muslim does not Make you Less American

My parents came to this country in the 70s. They came with nothing, took nothing from their families, worked hard, and lived the American Dream. They are some of the most patriotic, America-loving people I know. They also happen to be brown.

The thing I love about this country is that we don't just tolerate other cultures, we accept them into us, into the greater American culture. It's why we are the "melting pot." That is what makes America fantastic and unique--we are an amalgamation of cultures, religions, and people. It is a large part of why I love this country so much.

It is why Lowes decision to pull all advertising from a new show, "All-American Muslim" disgusts me. Growing up in a post-9/11 world, though I am not Muslim, I saw and felt the racism people of indian/arabic/pakastani/etc origin faced. It was not pretty, and now that I reflect on it, it was entirely un-American. Just like the decision by Lowes.

I could go on, but instead, I will repost an entry that my husband wrote on his blog. At the end, he urges you to call Lowes and tell them of your disappointment. Nothing aggressive, just stating a point. Please do so, it really is a case of silence is assumed tolerance. Take the 15 minutes to make your voice heard please.

Also, I have never asked this of a post, but if you read this, I'm asking you to copy the link of my blog, or my husband's blog onto your facebook/twitter/social media to spread awareness.

Thank you.


Re-Posted from Economics for Jacques

Note to Lowes: Being Muslim doen't make you less American

Recently a new show debuted on TLC, and the Florida Family Association said:
"All-American Muslim" is propaganda clearly designed to counter legitimate and present-day concerns about many Muslims who are advancing Islamic fundamentalism and Sharia law.  The show profiles only Muslims that appear to be ordinary folks while excluding many Islamic believers whose agenda poses a clear and present danger to liberties and traditional values that the majority of Americans cherish.
 Or, to paraphrase: "they only showed the normal Muslims, so people might get the idea that there are Muslims who live normal lives like normal Americans." The horror. And so Lowes pulled its ad buy from the show.

 Lowes was not duped. By pulling their ads, they suggest that to portray Muslim people, even individually, as legitimately American is somehow controversial. This is fundamentally what racism and xenophobia are about, it is the active denial of another's right to be American. Lowes apparently objects to a portrayal of normal people who happen to be Muslim as normal people who happen to be Muslim. It's important here to notice that there was no misconception as to the show's content. Lowes was not somehow convinced that the show is sympathetic to Al Quada and the Taliban, or is otherwise subversive. The show makes the assertion that there exist deeply patriotic Americans who happen to be Muslim, and so Lowes pulled its advertising dollars.

   My wife is ambiguously brown looking, and tells me that I "don't get it."  Obviously I don't; I've never been followed in a store because somebody thought I was Mexican, and I've never had eggs thrown at my house or tomatoes at my head because they thought I was Muslim, but I thought I understood how much I didn't get it. Clearly I was wrong.

   I always chalked it up to a few rednecks, which is easy for me to do. People know that I won't tolerate racism around me, so others tend to hold their tongues, and as I am white, most people see no reason to direct bigotry at me. I assumed that when she said "you don't get it" she meant that I don't get what it feels like, but I thought I understood how widespread it was.  I thought I understood how common it was. I thought I had a feeling for how pervasive it was. I was clearly wrong.  Lowes is big, Lowes is national, and Lowes is exactly the sort of far reaching corporation that I thought would be above this stuff on a national scale at least, so my outrage is not just at Lowes and the other companies that bowed to pressure from the FFA, but also at myself, because I thought I knew how much I didn't get it, but I was deeply wrong.

So, if you're as upset as I am, do what I did, and call and complain.

Call Lowes Customer care at 800-445-6937, ask to speak to a supervisor, ask them why they withdrew their advertising dollars, and tell them what you think.  The supervisor I spoke to told me the move was not in response to the show itself but instead in response to the controversy around it, so I told him that I felt responding to bigoted controversy in such a way was tantamount to denying the right of these people to be American, and I found that deeply offensive.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Chocolate Tart

It's December already. I feel like it was yesterday I was setting up my classroom for the beginning of the school year...preparing myself for a whole new set of students, a whole new set of stories, and feeling just slightly more ready than I was last year. It's an odd feeling to know that in two weeks it will be holiday break, and I'll be starting a brand new semester after that. 

It's also mildly unsettling how much grading needs to get done between now and then. But why think of that? 

Instead, I'm going to think about smelling the roses. It's something my mother always says, that it's important to stop and smell the roses. It's something I thought about today. We move through life so fast, constantly trying to figure out what's next, always looking to see how we can get better, or what we can do to move higher in our career paths, that we lose sight of the small things going on around us. 

The perfect spot on your partner's shoulder where your head fits (almost) perfectly. 

The pretty winter lights that are up, with the laughing Santa's and little elves that move in an awkwardly mechanical but nonetheless cute way. 

The rain smell that mixes with garbage, dirt, asphalt, and car exhaust to somehow be pleasant. 

Anyways, all these things are small, but things I noticed today that I hadn't taken the time to fully noticed before (although the rain thing was probably because it's been a painful low-rain year in Texas). This isn't an argument for mediocrity, it's important to always have one eye set to the future, but the other eye should be set to the present--to remind you that there is a now, and that it's important to enjoy it, because you never know what actually will happen next. 

And what better way to enjoy the present with a Chocolate Tart? No seriously. There isn't. I got this recipe from David Lebovitz, an amazing food blogger, cookbook author, and generally interesting guy. 

The crust is cookie-like, but not too sweet or overpowering, and pairs very well with the chocolate filling. 

The filling though...oh wow, it's amazing. You start off with caramelized sugar, add chocolate, eggs, butter, flour, and salt to that, and you have something beautiful. Not just delicious, but beautiful. 

Don't get scared by the sugar caramelizing part, it's easy. Seriously, it's not hard. Just be careful, sugar gets REALLY hot when you cook it, so make sure you don't touch it, and you're careful not to get it on your finger by accident (like me...). 

Chocolate Tart
modified from David Lebovitz

French Tart Crust

3 oz. unsalted butter, cut into pieces
1 tbsp. canola oil
3 tbsp. water
1 tbsp. sugar
1/8 tsp. salt
5 oz or 1 cup of all purpose flour. 

Preheat oven to 410 degrees 

In a pyrex bowl, combine butter, oil, water, sugar, and salt. Put them into the oven in the bowl for about 10 minutes, or until the butter is completely melted and turning slightly brown on the sides. 

Pull out carefully, and add the flour to the bowl, and stir immediately until the dough comes together. When it does, dump it out into a tart shell or 9-in pie tin. I used a pie tin. 

The dough will be warm, and feel very buttery, that's okay, that's normal. Just push it out and spread it into your tin, reserving a small portion of the dough to cover up any holes or tears that might form. Put it in the oven and bake it for 10 minutes. 

When it's done, pull it out and let it cool before filling it. 

Chocolate Filling
1.25 cups sugar
6 tsp. warm coffee or 1 shot espresso
4 oz. unsalted butter (1 stick)
pinch of salt
6 oz. bittersweet chocolate**
2 large eggs
0.25 cup all purpose flour
1 tsp. vanilla extract

**You can use any mixture of 6oz of bittersweet to unsweetened chocolate depending on how sweet you like things. I only had bittersweet chocolate on hand, so it's what I used, but you can use 3 oz. bittersweet, and 3 oz. unsweetened. Just whatever you do, use a high quality chocolate (I used ghirardelli) really makes a difference. 

Preheat oven to 350 F

In a heavy, metal saucepan or a dutch oven, or a cast iron saucepan, spread all the sugar evenly over the bottom and heat it over medium heat. 

Within 2-3 minutes, the bottom layer of sugar will start to melt, you can start to mix in the sugar from the top. You will have to do this for about 5-6 minutes until all the sugar is completely melted and starts to smoke a little (there should be no burning smell). 

When this happens, turn the stove off and mix in your coffee. The pan will sizzle, and smoke, so be sure to look away. Stir in the coffee completely, then add in the butter and salt. If the sugar is starting to get hard, no problem, just heat it over low heat until it melts and is easy to stir again. 

Then add in the chocolate and mix it in until completely incorporated. After that, add in the two eggs, and stir until completely incorporated, and then add in the flour and vanilla, and again mix until incorporated. 

When it's done, carefully pour it into your tart/pie shell. 

Put it in the oven and bake it for 15 minutes...the center should still be jiggly when you take it out. 

Make sure you let it cool completely before cutting into it, otherwise chocolate will ooze everywhere!