July 26, 2013

Potato Cheddar Soup

half a pack of bacon
1 medium onion
yellow bell pepper, carrot, and other veggies ad lib
2 cloves garlic
1 Tbs flour
1-2 c whole milk
1 batch chicken stock
5 medium potatoes
1-2 c chopped kale
1/2 c chopped ham
1 block cheddar

Cut bacon into pieces and cook over medium. Remove bacon when crisp, and add onions and other veggies and saute in the bacon grease. After a few minutes, sift in the flour, stirring. After a minute or so, stir in milk and bring to a simmer, stirring. Add in stock and about 3 of the potatoes. Bring to a boil. When potatoes are softened, blend. Add in the other potatoes* (diced), ham, kale, and cheese. Cook until potatoes are soft, stirring to melt cheese. Salt to taste. Serve with bacon crumbles on top.

*To speed things along, I started the diced potatoes and kale boiling in a separate pot and then added them to the soup when they were ready.

June 19, 2012

The Scene as I Left Home This Morning

Everyone playing nicely: Erin with her newly returned doll house, Noah actually listening to a book, and Luke trying to break into our file cabinet and drooling on the barbie car.

We'll see how long it lasts.

June 15, 2012

Thinking about Thinking about God

Several years ago, for a course in grad school, I read Dorothee Solle's Thinking about God. I didn't especially enjoy or dislike it (I remember being intrigued but not satisfied by some of the points she raised...which isn't altogether damning since it is, after all, an introductory text, I guess). One of the frames of the book is the division of theology/ians into three categories: conservative, liberal, and liberationist (in my mind, I've taken to thinking of this third category as "radical" rather than "liberationist," for a number of reasons, theological and practical--the most practical being that the word liberationist is just too darn close to liberal, so the categories get confused).

Conservative is, well, what you'd expect. Liberals are basically modernists who still want to be religious. And liberationists/radicals are the good guys, who see beyond the words and cultural constructs to the mystical and political truths of the gospel. See also, womanist theology, queer theology, etc.

Soelle's a Protestant, and her categories, it always struck me, don't apply too well to Catholics (or Orthodox). Sure, you can find conservative, liberal, and liberationist Catholics (who invented liberation theology, after all?), but the more I read folks like JPG, Dorothy Day...heck, even Augustine, the more the categories seemed to break down. (This is the point where I'd have to give an example, if there were anything realer than a blog post.) Also, Soelle presents these categories linearly, but I always wanted to see them in a circle (triangle?), because the Catholic folks I was reading always seemed to be somehow between the conservatives and the radicals, but at the same time, opposite the liberals. Okay here's an example [pdf file].

The professor didn't buy my alternative diagram (and did a lousy job of presenting it, anyways). But it's stuck with me (and see the first comment here, just without the politics), and it's framed my understanding of pretty much every theological discussion I've encountered.

June 11, 2012

The Benefits of a Small Library

As I've noted before, I like library juxtapositions.

I was in our school library today, picking up cook books for my 102 class (What? You don't use cookbooks to teach genre analysis?), and I noticed that the "food studies" section very quickly bleeds into the "war" section.

'Cause McDonalds is kinda like war, I guess.

May 31, 2012

Philadelphia Freedom

For posterity, I s'pose I should record the trip to Philly. Most notable experiences were spending good time with a friend from school, and three amazing sandwiches:

Fig spread, fried jalapeƱos, and brie, from the grilled cheese bar at the Wedge + Fig.

Not pictured: a  Genoa salami sandwich from the Reading Terminal Market, and a mushroom cheesesteak from Pat's King of Steaks. Actually, the cheesesteak was very good, not quite amazing.

Also worth recording was the visit to Valley Forge and a walk through the woods by a river:

Exotic wildlife included chipmunks, squirrels, 3 deer, ducks, and (wait for it) Canada geese. Unlike the last time I encountered a Canada goose in a national park, however, there was no threat of my being pecked to death:

A goose at the Gateway Arch in St. Louis. As it ran at me, all I remember wondering whether I could be arrested for kicking a goose in a national park, even in self-defense.

May 21, 2012

May 19, 2012

Salmon Fritters with Corn Chowder

Probably I'm misusing both the terms "fritter" and "chowder" here.

We recently inherited a bunch of newly expired cans of food from my in-laws' armageddon stash, so there's more processed food in this than there might otherwise be. Don't judge. Last night it was green bean casserole with actual canned cream of mushroom soup and canned dried onions. First time I'd ever made it not from scratch. But anyways, tonight:

The fritters:
Oatmeal, ground to nearly powder in the food processor. Set aside.
In the food processor, puree a zucchini and half an onion.
Add a can of salmon (vertebrae removed, but don't sweat the smaller bones), an egg, and the oatmeal.
When the consistency's right, add in some feta and give it a quick whirl.
Form into patties and fry in oil until browned.

The soup:
Make a handful of beans (white, ideally, but I used pinto) in a a lot (6 cups?) of broth. Add in some brown rice or barley, and some diced potatoes.
When everything's begun to soften, add in a can of corn and a can of cream of chicken soup. Cook a while more, then puree.
Finally, add in some roasted diced potatoes.

Serve the soup in shallow bowls with a fritter on top. Garnish with hot sauce.

Notes: I wasn't blown away by the roasted potatoes, but Cheryl liked 'em in the soup. The creamy texture and deliciousness of the fritters is perfect for me. Erin gobbled up the fritter like the world was ending. Noah made a terrible face at the fritters, but ate about a gallon of soup.

May 16, 2012

If NPR Started Asking Questions about the Value of Personhood

As I pulled in to work this morning, NPR had a story on about a new poll showing that a majority of Americans favor economic incentives for organ donation. Okay, fine, I'm thinking, but that really depends--more than most polls, I'd bet--on how you're phrasing the question, doesn't it? I mean, how much has the average person really though about the pros and cons here, and how much would her thinking change after a little reflection? (I'm basing that on the fact that my gut reaction to the topic was way different from where I've ended up on it).

[Hmm...The questions raised by this survey and its reporting would make good fodder for the next time I teach 373, or even 102 or any other research methods class. Final report (pdf) here.)

I had to get out of the car before the end of the story, so I may have missed something, but what struck me was not so much the results of the survey as the interpretation that the correspondent put on them: People's reluctance to attach financial (cash) incentives to organ donation was due, he believed, to potential donors' fears about their own health. In other words, his guess is that people were more comfortable supporting health-related rewards than cash because it seemed like a good insurance policy.

No mention (again, from what I heard in the story before I shut the car off) of the danger of the commodification of the person. The transcript shows some discussion of that:
There's been longstanding resistance to compensating donors financially in this country. There are concerns about exploitation and also worries that even small amounts of compensation would undercut a system that depends on altruism.
But it may be time to reconsider, Dr. Stuart Youngner, a bioethicist at Case Western Reserve University's med school, told Shots. "I think the market has become such an important guiding principle in so many areas of lives, including health care, that it becomes harder to say why shouldn't a person who donates organs make some money too," he said. "Altruism is very, very important, but in this case the lives of people are very, very important."
Love how the "in this country" highlights our provincialism, backwards moralism, whathaveyou.

I get that it is possible, even right and just, to think about human activities in economic terms. But when does that slide into reducing people to economics? I'm pretty sure that, by the time you've attached a cash value to that portion of your liver, you're at least flirting with the line.

No answers, just connections to what's been percolating in my head of late. Related, I discovered The Personalist Project, and that should keep me busy for a while.

May 15, 2012

Why Politics Makes Me Sad

Found recently, regarding the president's "Life of Julia" campaign piece:
I'm sure that Obama campaign would not have put out such a highly visible advertisement if they didn't think that it displayed all that was most wonderful about ObamaWorld. But to those who don't see their primary relationship in life as being with the all-protecting state, it's actually a mildly spooky piece of work. Julia is utterly alone. You never see her with parents, siblings, friends, boyfriend (or girlfriend, for that matter), or spouse. We see her pregnant once when she "decides to have a child", and we see her with her six-year-old son Zachary once when he goes off to his federal-program-filled kindergarten. But he's never seen again, nor is any other human being. Clearly, once Zach is under the sheltering arm of the state, he has no need to see his mother again. Nor does Julia need to see parents or siblings. She doesn't even need a spouse or other "life partner". She's got the state to watch out for her, and she has a fulfilling life with equal pay, a SBA loan to start her web design business, and a community garden to work in when she retires on social security. So in each image she appears alone. Safely cocooned from the need to rely on or interact with others. All she needs is the state.

Not sure why the swipe at the idea of equal pay, but besides that, "mildly spooky" seems a bit of an under/state/ment.

Also, This Way We Can Call You Noers

Dear Noah,

I’m sorry we gave you such a popular name. You should know the sort of people your parents are, and that the mere popularity of a name is a pretty big strike against it in our book. Not that we ever wanted to name you anything truly weird or impossible to spell. Just nothing to trendy. But we failed, apparently, and here’s how it happened.

We were sitting at Olive Garden over lunch one day in Knoxville. Don’t ask me how we ended up there for lunch on (I think) a weekday. Speaking of trendy. We were batting around names, and I was doing my best to convince your mom to go for Dominic Augustine. Or something with one of those in it. But that was probably too saintly. And also we had an idea about going with something that had four letters in it, like your sister’s name (Erin, remember, was named after a road sign).

So “Noah” came up pretty much out of the blue. I think it was your mom’s idea. I suggested Noah Augustine, but we also wanted a family name. The A sounded nice, we thought, with the first name, so Noah Alexander it was.