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Oct. 3rd, 2009

Scary Willow

low carb lemon ricotta pancakes

I've been on a pancake kick lately, but I was getting kind of bored with the Protein Power Lifeplan version, which are basically just sour cream, eggs, soy protein powder, and olive oil. They're fine for a weekday morning, but I have a weekend breakfast reputation to maintain, despite my dietary quirks--and until I find my relatively inexpensive waffle maker with removable plates, it's pretty much pancakes and eggs. Last weekend was a cheddar souffle, which turned out well, but this weekend I decided to combine what I've learned about making low carb pancakes with what I know about what Matt will eat for breakfast, and here's what I came up with.

Lemon ricotta and raspberry pancakes

1 c. whole milk ricotta
4 eggs
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tbs. olive oil
1/3 c. soy protein powder--I used the TJ vanilla kind
1 tsp. lemon extract
zest of one small lemon
1-2 packets of splenda, depending on your tastes
1/2 pint fresh raspberries, cut into small pieces

Combine all ingredients except raspberries in a medium bowl with a pour spout. Whisk well, until the only lumpy parts of the batter are the ricotta curds. Gently fold in raspberry pieces. Heat griddle to 375 degrees; it's ready when a drop of hot water sizzles and evaporates. Spray with a light coating of olive oil and wait 30 seconds. Pour batter into circular shape--it will expand slightly, but not as much as most pancakes. Occasionally stir remaining batter to prevent the raspberries from sinking too much. Flip when edges of the pancake are dry and middle is bubbling, and cook for another minute or two. Top with sugar free syrup, or sugar free lemon curd, and leftover raspberries if desired. (I tried the pancake syrup today, but next week, I'll make some lemon curd.) 

~19 net carbs and 45 grams of protein per recipe batch; makes roughly 8-10 pancakes, depending on size. If you're eating nothing but pancakes, this is probably a little more than enough for two people. If you're making it with eggs or sausage, it would probably serve 4.

I also had some leftover chicken to use last night, and came up with a chicken tenders recipe that turned out surprisingly delicious.

Parmesan chicken tenders 

1 lb. chicken tenders
1/2 c. heavy cream
1 tbs. prepared ranch dressing 
2 tsp. garlic powder
1 tsp. onion powder
2.5 tsp. freshly ground peppercorns
4 oz. very finely grated (powdery) parmesan/romano cheese
a bottle of peanut oil

Combine chicken fingers, heavy cream, ranch dressing, 1 tsp. garlic powder, 1 tsp. onion powder, and 1 tsp. peppercorn grounds in a ziploc bag; toss well to coat. Marinate for five or so hours. Remove chicken fingers and discard marinade. In a shallow bowl, combine 1 tsp. garlic powder, 1.5 tsp. ground peppercorns, and parmesan/romano cheese to create 'breading.' Dip the marinated chicken fingers in the breading and coat thoroughly, pressing the mixture into the chicken if necessary. Set the coated chicken fingers aside for 15-20 minutes to let them dry completely. In the meantime, heat peanut oil in a deep fryer, or, if you don't have one, a medium dutch oven. Heat enough oil so that there's a two inch gap at the top to accommodate bubbling. This will have to heat for awhile--to 350-375 degrees, probably the whole 15 or 20 minutes. It's ready when a cube of white bread dropped in becomes golden brown in about 60 seconds. Drop chicken fingers in, being sure not to crowd them. Remove when golden brown (~3-4 minutes) and let them drain on paper towels while you work. If you don't have peanut oil, I think any high temperature oil--safflower, sunflower, canola, etc.--will do, but don't use olive oil or walnut oil, because they break down at high temperatures. Serve with low carb bleu cheese dressing.

~9 carbs for the whole recipe, and 110 grams of protein. Makes about 20 chicken tenders. Would be good on a cobb salad.

Aug. 31st, 2009

Scary Willow

enhanced nuremberg trials

Maybe everyone's read this by now, but if you haven't, Andrew Sullivan's piece comparing interrogation techniques in Nazi Germany to interrogation techniques used and still endorsed by the members of the former Bush administration pays off on a careful read, or better than most blogosphere stuff does, anyway. Apparently, we were willing to do things that the Gestapo saved for their truly desperate straits near the end of the war, after just a few years rounding up Al-Qaeda members and, of course, plenty of people who were in the wrong place at the wrong time, or whose neighbors turned them in for a bounty. 

The current prosecutions do not go far enough. They merely seek out those who exceeded that which was legally authorized, and in doing so, they imply that anyone who acted within our lawless law acted nobly and correctly. Norwegian and other European courts entertained the "just following orders" defense in 1945, along with the "there was no permanent damage" argument proffered in its most recent incarnation by John Yoo, and found both wanting. (Incidentally, this reminds me of that one scene in The Empire Strikes Back when Darth Vader says of Han Solo, "He will not be permanently damaged," and I think this would be an effective propaganda piece if John Yoo's head was superimposed on Darth Vader's body. Just saying.) Prosecutions should go to the top, and punishments should be commensurate with responsibility.

I haven't had many opportunities to be thoroughly ashamed of my country, as I didn't live through Vietnam or Watergate. And I certainly am. But I think the really shocking thing is that there are people--people who used to be on my friends list--who to this day would wave their hands and flags around and even when presented with the parallels between Ultimate Unqualified Evil and Us for the Last Eight Years, would claim that desperate ends justify behaving like Nazis. Behaving Like Nazis. Let that sink in for a minute. It's a kind of reductio that, for some people, has ceased to distill anything.

*Fun footnote. One of the trackbacks on the Andrew Sullivan article is to a blog called The Shield of Achilles.  The author seems to be under the impression that The Iliad is a pro-war epic. So if you like to laugh at the dangers of a little education and possession of a Bartlett's Familiar, this is the blog for you.

May. 4th, 2009

Scary Willow

just a notice

As it is both immoral and impractical to nearly drown people, and history will almost certainly regard it (and its associated 'techniques') in the same way that it now regards Auschwitz, the gulags, the Inquisition, and the very similar methods employed by the Japanese in their Asian land wars, I won't have anything to do, here or elsewhere, with people who have some sort of Jack Bauer-related fantasies about how if we just suspend the rule of law this one time, we'll save the whole world and all of the puppies in it. There are no ticking time bombs, and when we become the sort of country that makes inhumanity to the non-convicted (or the convicted, for that matter) our moral habit because of a network television show, we might as well hand over the keys to Yosemite and turn off the lights on the way out. The End.

Feb. 1st, 2009

Scary Willow

Spontaneous internet art

Read all of the Amazon reviews of Chemical Shifts and Coupling Constants for Silicon-29.

And then tell me you don't love the Internet.

Jan. 29th, 2009

Scary Willow

Behold the face of evil

There is no God, but if there was one, I'd hope to him that DABA (Dating a Banker Anonymous) Girls is a hoax. Women who date married men already belong in some suitably low circle of hell, but women who date married men, and then bitch about it when their married men can't afford to give them $1000 bottles of wine and daily pedicures anymore--well, this may well require the construction of some sort of new circle. I call it the thirteenth circle, where the greedy tramps are forced to wander around ghetto malls all day long with no couture and no bottle service, and then Botoxed until their noses fall off and are eaten by fat girls.

Even my bombast isn't up to the Hitler-esque levels of evil exemplified by this post, which I will quote in its entirety without comment:

One of the ugly truths about older successful men in finance is that despite having lavish homes, gorgeous wives, a few adorable kids and multi-million dollar bank accounts, they often yearn for more. “More” may be a distraction as innocuous as golf.  It could also be a darker vice—gambling, drugs or prostitutes a la Spitzer. Unfortunately, it is rare man, rich or poor, that can withstand the temptation of forbidden fruit. That’s where I come in. My name is “Courtney” and I’m the other woman.

 

My married man’s (let’s name him “Charles”) Achilles’ heel is having a Mistress.  Definition: a young, attractive woman who offers love and affection along with kinkiness in the bedroom.  Charles treats me just as well as, if not better than, many of the unmarried bankers I’ve dated in the past. I would call myself his “girlfriend” in the sense that I receive constant attention via text messages, emails and phone calls, fabulous vacations while he is on “business trips” and a never ending supply of gifts, gourmet meals and affection. I get all this AND I get to leisurely continue to date in search of my own Mr. Right. Win-win, don’t you think? I certainly did… until the mortgage meltdown.

 

Suddenly, I found myself being taken out less and less frequently. A recent argument went along these lines:

Me *pouting*: You haven’t taken me on a trip since we went to Bermuda in September. What’s going on?

Charles: Honey, finances are tight right now so my wife has taken it upon herself to check up on all of our accounts.  She will notice any big expenditures.

Me *cute voice*: Wellllllllllllll, what are you going to do to make it up to me?

Charles: Can we talk later sweetheart? I’m really busy right now.

Me: No. Give me an answer NOW. Don’t you realize what you have? I’m way too hot to be treated like this. (Disclaimer: Yes, I come across as bratty here, but it typically works when trying to get something out of him)

Charles *yelling for the first time in our almost two-year relationship*: I’VE GOT TO FIRE TWENTY PEOPLE BY THE END OF THE WEEK. Z has four kids, X just had a baby girl, Y just sent his son to college and I’ve got to get rid of two of those guys… and you’re complaining about vacations and dinner? God, you are so 24! GROW UP!

Me *stunned*: Okie dokie, let’s talk later lover.

 

He apologized a few hours later.  He promised my age was one of the things that endears me to him the most, but that I just don’t understand the tremendous amounts of pressure he is under right now. Fair enough. But damn, it’s tough to date a banker, even for the girl on the side.

Contemplate the fact that these whores just secured themselves a book deal, and weep, weep I say, for our nation.

Jan. 9th, 2009

Scary Willow

Worst movie ever?

Just saw the 2006 remake of The Wicker Man. I'd say this about summarizes it:



The parody trailer displays a certain brilliance, but will make more sense if you actually endure the hour and 37 minutes it takes to figure out that the movie, appearances to the contrary, wasn't actually intended as a comedy.




Jan. 8th, 2009

Scary Willow

a worthy victim

If I ever write a murder mystery, the victim is going to be a queue jumper. Line cutter. Whatever you call it, it's the same despicable character. There are you are, having waited patiently in an abnormally long Safeway line to buy some pickles and Fresca, when the wind blows in this piece of trash--too much gold, a fake tan, and a black puffy coat that some magazine told her Beyonce owns--and hovers at the margins, clearly ignoring the fact that the line stretches past that little empty corridor in front of the check out stands and well into the toothbrushes. Another check stand finally opens up, and there's a bit of momentary confusion. Queue jumper sees her opportunity at last, and sidesteps right in front of you. She's counting on you to say nothing, counting on you to see, as she sees, how much more valuable her time is than yours. She comes in many varieties. Often she has children, and thinks that rushing home cheap complex carbohydrates to their poor wittle aching stomachs trumps whatever time you've waited that afternoon, you unimportant childless bitch, you. You should feel privileged to hold her place in line, privileged to be doing your part to help America's Future. Sometimes she's just an office manager, required to do nothing all day but wear peep toe heels and think about how she needs a manicure while (occasionally) picking up the telephone to provide disinformation to whoever is rude enough to interrupt her reveries, formidable sense of self-importance, and feeling that this work is simply beneath her two-year college diploma in communications technology.

But wait. Is our line cutting victim going to mindlessly swallow this version of events? Decide that her time is definitely too valuable to spend it arguing with some office manager about numeric sequences and line etiquette? No. Because our line cutting victim does care about America's Future, and knows that each time a line cutter is allowed to get away with her crime against decency and the dignity of others, it just emboldens her to keep on assuming that her self-centric theory of the universe is in fact the correct one. Pretty soon she'll be embezzling millions to keep herself in Ugg boots, Coach purses, and those gold necklaces that spell out her name. Or running for public office. So our line cutting victim makes her move, not merely to win a victory for herself, but to improve the lives of millions. She's seen this coming. She's prepared her simple but forceful statement.

"Excuse me. I was in line."

What does our line cutter do now? Ignoring the victim will merely draw the attention of other customers. A meltdown--and that is the natural emotional habitat of such people, who long for nothing more than to have some sort of meltdown in front of the largest audience possible, preferably while on a reality television show--seems imprudent, because it will delay matters further. And that beer and frozen pizza is looking pretty good after a long day of pretending to work. There's only one thing to do when called out in this particular set of circumstances, only one way to paralyze the victim's critique of your behavior.

And that is to pretend like it's the victim's fault that she's making such a big deal about your rudeness. "Like, whatever. No worries."

Oh, yes, my dear, there are worries. I'm worried about your vocabulary, for one thing. You may think that "whatever" is a word that means what you want it to mean at any given moment, but I assure you that your inarticulateness is no cause for nonchalance. Your pseudo-island parlance will never help your colleagues take you seriously and you will have to keep winning whatever little professional advancement you manage to secure by flirting with men who have hair growing out of their ears. You'll never graduate to Louis Vuitton with the modest salary increases these old men throw your way as tokens for wearing cleavage enhancing tops and fiddling with the phone receiver whenever they walk by. They know your real worth, even if you don't. And that's what I'm really worried about, Line Cutter: that you're heading for a fall. That someday, you're going to wake up, look in the mirror, and see what everyone else saw a long time ago. There's nothing all that objectionable about you. You're okay. You don't murder puppies or steal wallets out of shopping carts. But you're not that great, either. You're thoroughly average, in fact, and your pathetic attempts to convince yourself that you deserve rose petals cast at your feet as you walk and for all others to cow in embarrassment when you deign to appear in a grocery store was a mere product of those dumb magazines you've been reading all your life. You're not Beyonce. You're not even Beyone's second assistant housekeeper. Red carpet is too good for you. You're just not that important.

Then, hopefully, you will do all of us a favor and slit your wrists in the bathtub.

Dec. 28th, 2008

Scary Willow

the new year

idomeneus  and I considering an impromptu New Year's jaunt down to Los Angeles due, primarily, to the happy conjunction of my Getty craving and his Catalina Island craving. Angelenos: what does your city offer by way of fireworks and other New Year's revelries?

Dec. 6th, 2008

Scary Willow

Elf disco

Send your own ElfYourself eCards

Nov. 8th, 2008

Scary Willow

fellow Californians

Please consider writing to your representatives and Senators Feinstein and Boxer about the Mormon Church's actions in passing Proposition 8. This site has a good summary of some of the issues at hand as regards tax exempt status for religious organizations, and feel free to reproduce as much of the text of my letter below to save time.

--

8 November 2008

The Honorable Ellen Tauscher
United States House of Representatives
Washington, DC 20515

Dear Representative Tauscher,

Congratulations on your re-election to the U.S. House of Representatives. My best wishes for another productive two years in Washington.

I am writing, as one of your constituents, in full knowledge that Congress does not play an active role in overseeing Internal Revenue Service investigations. I hope, however, that members of Congress may have a voice in encouraging further investigation into the recent actions of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints in stripping thousands of Californian citizens of their right to marry. As you are no doubt aware, IRS tax-exempt status is dependent on religious organizations maintaining silence on political matters. Although the Mormon Church's status as a 503(c)(3) organization does allow it some lobbying privileges, IRS regulations stipulate that “too much lobbying” will put this status in jeopardy.

Clearly, the Mormon Church has overstepped itself. An Associated Press report that appeared in the Los Angeles Times on October 9, 2008 informed us that members of the Mormon Church's second highest governing body, the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, bought ad time in California to encourage the 770,000 LDS members who live in the state to vote yes on Proposition 8 in the election. Furthermore, they broadcast a meeting to temples across this state and others where apostle M. Russell Ballard was quoted as telling his flock, “What we're about is the work of the Lord, and He will bless you for your involvement.” With the leaders of this church threatening their members with excommunication if they did not vote for Proposition 8, is it any wonder that approximately half of the donations for this measure came from Mormons? Told that their souls were at stake by their god's representatives on Earth, they made the obvious choice.

I am sure this is only the proverbial tip of the iceberg when it comes to abuses of ecclesiastical power in which the Mormon Church has engaged to push their agenda in California. These IRS regulations exist to ensure that our Constitutionally mandated bright line between religion and state remains. As someone who believes firmly that religious freedom necessarily entails this separation, I believe that its potential usurpation demands further investigation. I write this letter in the hope that if you possess any influence that might help such an investigation occur, you will use it—not just on behalf of your constituents who have been harmed by the Mormon Church's actions here, but for all of us who wish to preserve the spirit of the First Amendment to the United States Constitution.

Thank you for your time.

Sincerely,

Shannon Chamberlain

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