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Archive for July, 2013

I admit it, I’m spoiled. I like cooked vegetables, or at least some sauce with my pasta/orzo/couscous/rice. However, when you’re standing in front of the fridge 5 minutes before you need to leave the house in the morning packing food to take to lunch and you realize you’ve got small hamburgers and orzo without sauce, what’s to be done?

Eat your food dry, I hear your answer. Next time make something the evening before. I picked a different route.

I add a handful of cherry tomatoes to the box. When I eat lunch, I warm it in the microwave. The cherry tomatoes burst. I cut them up before eating, getting a nice fresh tomato sauce (you can’t get any fresher than that 😉 ). Granted, there are no fried onions in there and the tomatoes are still mostly raw, but it’s still a sauce, and that’s what’s important, isn’t it? And healthy! If you’ve got another few seconds to spare you can even add a dash of dried oregano or basil. Then you have Italian instant tomato sauce! 😛

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I read this book in Hebrew. I do read in Hebrew sometimes, mostly non-fiction or books that are originally in Hebrew. In this case, a friend lent it to me. I dislike reading in Hebrew because I’m slow at it, and a book I would have finished over one weekend takes me two 😕 .

This book was worth it.

Gavin de Becker provides insightful views on violence, from creepy admirers to total psychos, with straight forward explanations and examples from his own caseload. He earns our respect, arouses our curiosity, makes us think about the violence we take for granted. Then he gives a number of things to notice when talking to a stranger, whether the first date or your new babysitter. And last he gives us ways to differentiate between worry, paranoia, and fear. He teaches us how to trust our intuition so that we need not be anxious and worried all the time. As a result this book actually makes you less afraid and more confident.

I always thought intuition was bull, as women notoriously fall for “bad boys” and it seems a hindsight speciality (“I knew there was something creepy about him”). But mostly because it made no sense to me that by the tone of someone’s voice or by the grace of the cosmos it would be possible to figure out that someone is up to no good. What Gavin de Becker shows us is that intuition is not based on ESP or hocus pocus; it is based on details that get filtered out of our conciousness added to a lifetime of experience. Therefore, when someone makes you uncomfortable it isn’t the little green men sending you messages – it is the fact that he isn’t where he should be (because you locked the building door behind you and didn’t hear the buzz of the intercom) and isn’t going where he says he is (because then you would already see the neighbour waiting for him).

He also explores social mores. A woman should refuse a man kindly, not be assertive, because then she is termed unfeminine (or worse). That is not to say that all violence would be avoided if we learn how to say “No!” but I’m sure many women would be happier and less fearful if they knew how to set and keep boundaries. Thankfully, I’ve rarely had that problem; my mother was not shy and she taught me to say no when necessary. But when I was in the Impact self defence course, one of the things taught is how to say no. And I was surprised how many women found it difficult, regardless of age or marital status. We all finished the course stronger for the practice. I was smugly pleased to find that Gavin  de Becker recommends the Impact course for all women exactly because it teaches verbal defence as well as physical defence. Highly recommended, and when my daughter is old enough she will go there.

Bottom line: this is a thought-provoking book which also teaches you valuable tools and tips. I hope I never have to use them, like I hope I’ll never need the tools I learned in the self defence course; but I’m glad I have them. 5 stars.

Note: No detailed violence. There are a few descriptions, but short and only if part of a point. Nora Roberts has far, far more.

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Sometimes I wonder whether using up leftovers is even a good idea. I still remember the time I made muffins with red pepper and cheese to use up some peppers. It sounded great on paper (well, web site) but when I made it it turned out meh. It was edible, but was that really the best use of flour, eggs, and cheese? I don’t think so.

But this time, a friend sent me this recipe, and I had some bananas and pineapple to use up, and I thought: This can’t be coincidence. This is meant. So I got out the mixer and started baking. 🙂 The results were utterly amazing. A rich cake, filling and satisfying, that my kids practically fought over (without adding chocolate chips!). I didn’t mention the pineapple though 😉 Definitely a keeper. So thanks, Claire and Chantal, for the lovely recipe!

Ingredients

1 cup whole wheat flour
2 cups all purpose flour (originally 3 cups flour)
1 3/4 cups dark brown sugar, unpacked (originally 2 cups sugar)
1 tsp baking soda
2 dashes cinnamon (originally 1 tsp cinnamon, my kids like it less)
2 pinches salt (originally 1 tsp)
1 cup vegetable oil (originally 1 1/2 cups)
240 gr (1 small can) crushed pineapple with juice
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
3 eggs
2 cups diced bananas (3-4 medium bananas)

Four Diced Bananas - a little more than 2 cups

Four Diced Bananas – a little more than 2 cups

I first blended the pineapple and the bananas in the food processor, as my pineapple can was cubed pineapple and not crushed. However, the original recipe suggests mixing everything by hand, so next time maybe I’ll leave the bananas in pieces.

 

Really Crushed Pineapple!

Really Crushed Pineapple!

 

I did the classic muffin style: Mix dry ingredients together…

Dry Ingredients

Dry Ingredients

Add liquids…

With Liquids

With Liquids

And mix it all. Pour into ring pan and bake at 170°C for 80 minutes (not a typo).

Waiting...

Waiting…

After ~40 minutes the top will get brown; cover with aluminium foil to prevent burning and continue baking. Cake is done when toothpick comes out clean. This is a large cake, about twice the size of my regular cake; it didn’t last twice as long though 🙂

Done!

Done!

Bon Apetit!

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