Highlight of the Week

Usually one evening out of the week, we’ll order take out or delivery for dinner. It’s the middle or end of the week and we’re tired of the same stuff or I’m tired of cooking. And my cooking is crap compared to this!

Last week was Indian. Chicken Tikka Masala and Daal.

Last last week was Thai. Pad Kee Mao and Green Curry.  I always want Thai food.

It’s almost always Asian food. We like the rich spices and flavors and options for meat and meat free.

This is what I’ve been looking forward to most during the week lately.

Why I don’t eat animals

So I get a lot of questions as to why I decided against eating animals. And I also hear random commentary which sometimes doesn’t make sense and sometimes is just spoken out of ignorance. Without pissing people off, my simple answer is, I read Eating Animals and learned more about what it means to eat animals and decided against it. But here’s a lengthier answer: There’s only 1 reason to eat animals and there are many reasons not to. So what’s the lone reason to eat animals? They taste yummy. Hey, it’s good enough a reason for many. Almost good enough for me. But no. The reasons not to eat meat hold more weight than just my selfish pleasure and enjoyment. You can find this info anywhere so I won’t get into the nitty gritty but here’s a very oversimplified list:

  • Suffering.  Yes.  We’ve all heard of the evils of how animals are raised in terrible conditions.  But there’s more to it. Even if you choose to eat an animal that was raised on a happy farm and frolicked in a yard, eventually it was sent to slaughter.  And the slaughterhouse processing so many animals, will have errors.  Gruesome, torturous errors. Suddenly, that burger doesn’t taste so good when all I can see is a cow screaming as it’s hanging by its legs going down a conveyor.  People think fish are okay to eat, some think they don’t feel pain. Who are we to know?  Because they can’t cry?  That seems more awful to me to be in pain but unable to cry. I’ve raised fish.  They’ve gotten sick or injured.  They shirk away near their wounds.  They feel pain.
  • Pollution.  Water and Air and Global Warming.  If meat were priced accurately taking into consideration the costs to society, to the environment, chicken would cost far more than $2/lb.
  • Disease. Overcrowding + Stressed animals = Illness.  Industrial farms are creating more antibiotic resistant bacteria.
  • Food Safety and Sanitation. The listeria on fruit.  The e. coli on spinach.  Mad cow disease. It’s all from animal farms. And almost all the chicken you purchase has e.coli on it.
  • World hunger. As nations’ wealth increases, so does the demand for meat.  It’s unsustainable to feed the large population of the planet the quantity of meat we consume.  The same land used to raise meat could feed far more people on a plant based diet.
  • Mass extinction. Industrialized fishing is contributing to loss of biodiversity in the oceans.
  • Health.  Call it the revenge of the animal.  Eating meat is detrimental to ones health.  I almost don’t want to put this on the list because it’s minor compared to the other reasons.  I know plenty of people willing to sacrifice a few years to their lives for a tasty morsel but  the thing is, you choosing to harm yourself is still a personal freedom which you’ve denied the animals. But it’s what led me down this path so I’ve tacked it on. Stroke, cancer, heart disease, all that yummy goodness.

So that it tastes good suddenly isn’t a good enough reason for me.

Here are some doozies I’ve heard lately, which ignorant me might have said before:

  • I can’t believe people eat… (fill-in”exotic” animal, turtle, dog, cat). They say this as they bite into chicken.  Then they rationalize, when I remind them that they’re eating animals, that those animals they eat are dumb.  Dogs/cats (whatever lucky animals that we deign to be non-food) are smart. I said the same thing when I ate meat.  Only my exclusion was primates.  I declared all animals are fair game to me, but primates feel too much like eating people.  Oh and I wouldn’t eat lobster because I had to kill it at home and I could hear the scratching on the side of the pot as they suffered to death.  It was the same kind of rationalizing.  For all the love we claim to have for animals (our pets), we sure are able to conveniently forget about the ones that land on our dinner table.  By the way there is vegan dog/cat food and no it’s not torturing poor Skippy to feed it vegan food because cats are supposed to eat meat.  When you feed your rescue cat chicken, you just sacrificed one animal for another.  A cat can be humanely put down, but the chicken suffered it’s entire life and then had a terrible death.  Somehow, I think the cat still comes out on top in a comfortable home eating a balanced vegan diet.
  • Animals eat other animals. Yes.  They do. But they don’t raise theirs in such conditions that breed disease and cause suffering.  The way our animals are raised and slaughtered isn’t the way they once were when people and domesticated farm animals once were codependent and the farmer slaughtered as needed to feed a town not a large corporation slaughtering en mass to feed a gigantic city. Animals also eat poop.
  • Plants feel pain too! This is an eye roller.  One kills more plants eating meat than eating plants alone.


Anticipation for the Silver Line

The Silver Line is starting on Saturday. That’s THIS coming Saturday. 3 more days. I’ve been hearing about this Silver Line since 2001. (I’m sure talk of it started way before then.) Still, it was just talk. “I’ll believe it when I see it.” Well, this week, the Orange Line has been running Silver Line practice runs that end at East Falls Church where the Orange and Silver Line split off. That’s real enough for me.

Nibbles with Gibbles Red Hot Potato Chips

Of all the things we did in Lancaster the one side “project” we engaged in (which I tried to forget about) was hunting for the elusive Nibbles With Gibbles, Red Hot Potato Chips. Made with lard, in Pennsylvannia. So we thought of all places, Pennsylvania should sell them. Not so. Something about the company shutting down then getting bought by another company and they’re starting things back up, maybe they’re on back order. Who knows.

All we found were these at the local Weis Markets.

Not the Red Hot variety, so why bother?

Welp, nothing the Internet can’t fix.

I mean REALLY fix.

A dozen. One is eaten.

Now I’m not expecting potato chips to be healthy for you but these are pretty bad. Food coloring, TBHQ, soybean oil, no doubt courtesy of Monsanto.
Warning TMI:
Eating a bag of these will give you the runs.

And they weren’t as good as memory served.
Feedback to Nibbles With Gibbles: Make them spicier. If you added more cayenne, you wouldn’t need the food coloring. And the lard. Take that out too.

PaD is the best cure for a shopping addiction

Y’know that resolution I’ve been trying to do all year? Curb my frivolous shopping habits? I inadvertently solved it by getting into this game Puzzle and Dragons. It’s sucking up my life and I am hooked.
No time to shop. Must match colored orbs and sing Les Mis and Beauty and the Beast songs in my head.

Posted in Me!

Amish Country

May. That’s when I started planning a trip to Lancaster, PA. I picked it because it was within easy driving distance and some friends had gone there and recommended it. July seemed so distant at the time I can’t believe the trip has come and gone. We knew we wanted to check out the Amish countryside. Bird-in-Hand. And since we were doing small town, I thought a bed and breakfast would fit the bill too. Then I found the Fulton Theatre. Turns out they were showing Les Miserables. Sold! I nailed down the weekend we would visit based on the availability of better seats for that show. I built the itinerary around the show. We pre-watched song performances on YouTube in preparation for the show. As you can tell, this was the trip highlight.

So with one full day there, here’s what we did.
First, we went to Bird-in-Hand and rented bicycles. We biked around to their farmer’s market. Walked around that for a bit. They had knick knacks for tourists and sold jams, jellies, mustards, pretzals, sandwiches, cheeses. Y’know. Amish stuff. Then we biked over to another little market that had a little petting zoo right next to it.
The market wasn’t too different from the previous one, but the goats running around with the chickens were pretty cool.

The nice thing about bicycling around Amish country is, when you’re off the main road, there aren’t too many other cars or horse drawn buggies. I haven’t biked in years so even though I still remembered how, I was wobbly on it. We eventually got comfortable enough on them, even passed a buggy (going real slow, obviously). The roads weren’t too hilly.

After returning the bicycles, we drove to downtown Lancaster to explore yet another Amish market. Even though I generally love grocery stores and markets these weren’t all that interesting to me. Not a large variety of produce. The most interesting stall was a guy selling celery. They looked smaller and homegrown. That’s all he sold. We were in and out of the market pretty quickly. Next stop, Spring House Brewery for lunch and some beers to cool us off after that bike ride. They had some interesting flavored stouts. Egg Nog stout tasted like sarsaparilla. Yums.

And then, the pièce de résistance: Les Miserables at the Fulton Opera House.
This theatre was built in 1852. It’s old and beautiful on the inside. And the best part, it’s small. Not a bad seat in the house. I had managed my expectations about this show, thinking more high school production and less Broadway act. It turned out to be more Broadway act (or so it seemed based on what I saw on YouTube). My goodness, the music was amazing. I cried throughout the whole thing. The lady next to me cried. Everybody died. It was spectacular. For the Fulton Theatre alone, I would come back and do this whole trip over again. For a different performance of course. Les Miserables has great songs but it’s emotionally taxing. Once for sure, and once is enough.

For dinner, we went to the John J. Jeffries restaurant located at the Lancaster Arts Hotel.
Fresh ingredients make tasty dishes. We practically licked our plates clean.
By 8 PM we were back to our room at the B&B. It was a long day for us. Long, fun, and memorable.

Estimated Costs:
Gas: ~$40
B&B (2 nights): ~$200
Dinner (2 nights): $110
Lunch and beer: $30
Bicycle rentals ($10/hour): $25
Fulton Theatre: $120
TOTAL: ~$525

Good Intentions

On Saturday we went to Wolf Trap to see Toad the Wet Sprocket and Counting Crows. Remember them!?! Haha. It was fun to hear the old songs again. Picnicking on the lawn was probably the best part though. I mean, eating anything on a blanket makes the food taste better I think. We got takeout from Natta Thai (10 minutes from the venue) which was very good. I also enjoyed watching other people eat. A double dating group in front of us brought some fancypants stuff. Crudites, artichokes with dip, fried chicken, bite sized Twix. I think I paid more attention to them and their food than the show. To our right was a couple with 2 LeoNora bakery baguettes. I love watching people eat. Oh and I picked up some very creative ways to pop off beer caps. One guy rolled up the programs they handed out and used that as a bottle opener. Another guy held two bottles against each other and used one cap to force off the other. I was going to borrow someone’s bottle opener but it looked like we all forgot to bring one so I used my belt buckle. Worked like a charm.

We got there at 6:30 for a 7PM show which actually started at 8PM and the lawn looked like this.

We settled in on a shady patch were the views of the stage was this.

Next time, we should probably get there a bit earlier.

Here’s Counting Crows playing just as we were leaving.

The sound was clearest right by our car. I could actually hear the words to the songs without the messy echos and reverberations.

Folklife Festival 2014

The Smithsonian Folklife Festival is back! I went yesterday to check things out. This year’s festivities feature China and Kenya.

This was the most interesting display: Searching For Human Origins
Originating out of Kenya, Homo Erectus spread all over the world.

These are the sorts of things that keep me coming back year after year though.
I love watching people make crafts.

I love seeing throwaway items finding a second life. This was made out of recycled flipflops.

This man is making a hut out of empty beer bottles. I spotted a Jim Beam in there too.

And the music and dance.

This year’s festival was missing the old Folklife Festival bus that’s usually on display every year. It was the loud gaudy mascot of the Folklife Festival.
Instead, they replaced it with this large bamboo display. Just as loud. Just as garish. Way way bigger.

Since I was on the Mall, I paid a quick visit to my favorite farmer’s market in the area, the USDA Friday farmer’s market. It’s even more than I remembered it to be. There’s a kettle corn stand that is very popular. A long line snaked along the lot with people holding refillable buckets.

I used to buy 20 lbs of zucchini and eggplant every Friday when it was in season and lug it home on the metro. I didn’t get anything this time though since I wasn’t going straight home.

No-Shopping Check-in

It started out innocuously enough. Some socks. Who doesn’t need socks? And devolved into the pencil sharpener I’ve used once, just to test it out. The foam roller I’ve used twice.

And on vacation, shopping doesn’t count. Therefore: blouse, yoga pants, and cardigan because sale, sale, sale. And candles, because 7 aren’t enough. I need 10. And the stationary because what’s the point of a fountain pen if I can’t use it on fancy paper?

So this is where I am at the moment. The month of June, blown. These objects may seem small and innocuous enough but it adds up. The dollars and the space taken up.

Starting over in July. July will be my toss month.

I watched a documentary called Tiny on Netflix recently. It’s about people who live in micro homes. Teeny tiny homes ranging from 100 to 600 square feet thereabouts. They generally have 1 bathroom, 1 kitchen, and everywhere else is your dining room, living room, guest room, storage, bedroom, and study. Tiny homes have no room for accumulating garbage. I like that idea. A home that constrains me to a space budget.

Sesame Squares

Here’s a fun snack I picked up called Sesame Honey Bites.
Right after I made these, we ate them all up.

Toasted the sesame seeds in coconut oil with some cinnamon. The cinnamon makes this snack extra tasty. Seriously, I think it’s the cinnamon that kept me coming back for one more bite. Don’t skimp on the cinnamon.

I added lots of honey. And just a dollop of blackstrap molasses. Stir it all around while everything is good an hot.

Pour the mixture into a flat baking sheet and pat it flat with your spatula. It’s very hot.

I can’t wait for it to cool so I stick it in the fridge for 30 minutes, then cut them up into squares ~1″.

Neatness doesn’t matter. I eat the crumbly bits with a spoon.