Friday, September 24, 2010

The Friday Five from The Women's Colony

1. What is one characteristic you received from your parents that you want to keep, and one you wish you could change? 

I'd want to keep my inquisitive nature (from my dad).  At the same time, I might tone down my need to question absolutely everything, all the time, every time. It gets in the way of seeing the magic moments in life sometimes. 

2. If you could have any chef (free of charge) cater a dinner party for you and your friends, who would you choose? What is one thing that would have to be on the menu 

Anthony Bourdain^. I'd like him to make Vietnamese crêpes called banh xeo (happy pancakes). They are gluten-free and look wonderful. I saw him eat them on one of his travel shows, and they were crispy and fresh and I really wanted them right then.They don't seem to be particularly difficult to make, but to require an insanely hot iron skillet to get the crêpes perfectly crispy.
I like Vietnamese food a lot. Everything I've ever had or made has been wonderful. Lots of veggies, lots of herbs, lots of flavor, usually not too spicy if that is a concern. It isn't for me, but it is for some folks. 

3. How do you know when you are in love? 

I have no idea. Seriously. Maybe when you're happier with the person than without them? 
I can tell you how you'll know if you aren't in love any more , though: when you simply don't care much one way or the other, you are no longer in love. And yes, I am a little ray of sunshine, aren't I? 
4. Favorite crappy, sugar laden cereal? 

I used to love Kellogg's Corn Pops, but they are not gluten free, so I haven't had them in years and don't buy them for the kiddos, This is a true shame, because they're missing out on the joy of having the roofs of their mouths scraped raw by those sweet little corn nuggets. My understanding is that they used to be free of gluten^, but that that changed a few years ago. So I don't buy them. At all. Period.

I'd like to take this moment to explain allergy math to food manufacturers. They look at Celiacs, or people with food allergies, and see them as a percentage or two of the population. What they don't see is that if one person can't eat it, it doesn't get purchased in most homes. So that 1-2% is multiplied by the several other people living there, and suddenly it's a lot more than 1% they're missing out on. If I don't buy your product for 4 people, we're 4% out of 100 consumers.And when I buy more of one entire brand name because the company has made an effort to make things that I can eat, you lose even more of my business.

So come on, Kellogg's. Y'all get on the trolley. Sheesh

Many awesome companies are moving toward making their cereals and other products gluten free whenever possible. General Mills has done a fabulous job making Rice Chex & Corn Chex GF. They've introduced lots of other GF products, too^. They introduced several products including a GF Bisquick this summer. Everyone I know who buys GF foods now makes a point to buy as many General Mills products as possible. I can't tell you how nice it is to buy food from the regular grocery store from a recognizable company at a good price. Their response to the GF community has created a lot of brand loyalty. Yay, General Mills.

I buy Rice Chex or Corn Chex almost exclusively now and sometimes fancy it up with a recipe from the Chex website^. I'm not sure I'd go back if I could; the awesomeness that is Chex Muddy Buddies is beyond description. GF, full of chocolate and peanut butter. Oh, my goodness.

Here's the recipe. 

Muddy Buddies ^

9 cups Chex cereal
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup peanut butter
1/4 cup margarine
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/2 cup powdered sugar

1. Into large bowl, measure cereal; set aside.
2. In 1-quart microwavable bowl, microwave chocolate chips, peanut butter and butter uncovered on High 1 minute; stir. Microwave about 30 seconds longer or until mixture can be stirred smooth. Stir in vanilla. Pour mixture over cereal, stirring until evenly coated. Pour into 2-gallon resealable food-storage plastic bag.
3. Add powdered sugar. Seal bag; shake until well coated. Spread on waxed paper to cool. Store in airtight container in refrigerator.

Use dairy-free chocolate and margarine if dairy is an issue. Obviously, use GF Chex if gluten is an issue. Always read the labels on ingredients. Always. 

Again: Yay, General Mills. Seriously, you guys rock. 

5. If you were guaranteed honest responses to any two questions, whom would you question, and what would you ask them? 

I'd like to ask the same question of two very different people. 

Also, this assumes that I can ask anyone from any time period, right? I'm gonna be seriously disappointed if I have to limit my questions to current denizens of Earth.

Ok, so I'd ask Charles Darwin, "What do you think of your idea now?", because I'd like to know what he thinks of the massive, far-reaching effect his theory has had on the rest of Humanity. I wonder if the continued controversy would surprise him or not?

Charles Darwin
I'd ask Thomas Jefferson the same question,  "What do you think of your idea now?" Because Jefferson was the principle author of the Declaration of Independence and so much change has come to pass in the world as a result of what he did and what he wrote. Would he be sorely disappointed? Surprised? Happy?
  Thomas Jefferson
How would you answer these questions?

This week's quiz is from The Women's Colony^. So many talented women. I encourage you to zip over there and read to your heart's content.


Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Humanity is for the birds...

I  usually try not to read too much into our pets when they do something which mimics human behaviour. That's known as anthropomorphism - mis-attributing human characteristics to animals or even to non-living things. It can hurt our animal friends when we come to expect them to "think" like us.

This was too much to ignore, though. It was very funny and a little bit scary at the same time.

Congo African Gray 
Used with permission (^)

I couldn't sleep last night, so I stayed up late and ended up watching an episode of a documentary series called Life After People^ on Netflix^. The series is about what the world would look like if humanity ceased to exist. How long it'll take for roads to disappear; how long it will take for animal populations to normalize, how buildings will crumble and fall, etc. All very interesting in a creepy sort of way.

Amazonian parrot

One of the people interviewed said that even 100 years after humanity disappeared, the world would still have spoken language thanks to parrots which had been taught to speak. Parrots live a very long time and can pass on learned behaviour (like speech) to other parrots. Showing footage of parrots in flight, the voice-over said that since parrots don't have an evolutionary use for human language, it would eventually disappear.

 Blue and Gold Macaw

My bird had started watching from her perch across the room as soon as the parrots first popped onto the screen. Polly is smart enough to recognize other birds and has preferences when it comes to whatever might be on the screen. She's comically self-centered and her knack for observation has allowed her to figure out how to get attention by exploiting things she's seen. She drives the dog nuts by duplicating the sound of the doorbell and meows whenever the cat walks by. She can mimic Dan's sneeze precisely.


So it came as only a tiny bit of a shock to hear her laughing manically as soon as the documentary voice-over announced that parrots would be around to speak long after humans are gone.

Apparenty, Polly is really looking forward to the end of human-kind.

 Macaw, possibly a Catalina

Let me take a moment to say that none of these birds are my bird. I'm posting pictures of these pretty birds because my bird doesn't like it when you stick a camera in her face and we don't antagonize her needlessly.

My parrot was rescued when her previous owners, who loved her dearly, could no longer keep her. She'd started mutilating and had plucked nearly all of her feathers out due to stress and boredom - her previous owner's lives had changed and they no longer had time for her. She looked like a raw, plucked chicken when we got her, but she looks fine now. It has taken us years and a lot of work to persuade her to stop mutilating herself.

She's still moody, grumpy, and bitey, though. She makes a point of trying to bite anyone who gets too close to her, and her bite causes a lot of damage when she's successful. Some parrots have the strength to break through broom sticks - think of what they could do to a finger.Think of what they could do to a child's hand.

I wanted to add this last bit of information for two reasons:

1. Parrots are a life-long commitment, and that commitment should never be made lightly. The lifespan of some parrots can equal or exceed those of a human.They require a tremendous amount of attention, much like a child. But unlike a child, parrots never outgrow their need for attention.

2. If you're reading this, have educated yourself about parrots, and are considering parrot ownership, please, pretty please, consider adopting a parrot who needs rescuing. They aren't hard to find; Craigslist (^), local shelters, and AvianWeb Adoption resources (^) and good places to start. None of us want to contribute to the serious problem of over-breeding when there are so many parrots who already need "forever homes".Needless to say, never adopt a wild parrot. Many parrots which commonly exist in captivity teeter on the brink of extinction in the wild. The Hyacinth Macaw is one of those:

Hyacinth Macaw
used with permission (^)

It would be terrible if this beautiful bird  existed only in captivity.