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Generally Recognized As True: August 2007

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Feminism as a sanctuary for lazy folk

Violent Acres has a post on why staying at home and raising your kids to the exclusion of everything else in your life is not the behaviour of a sane or genuine feminist.

I tend to agree somewhat.

I greatly respect women who decide to stay at home and raise their children by themselves. It seems to me that, since we discovered the importance of "the first three years" and the associated tenuous belief that children are generally best raised in a daycare by professionals that can maximize the stimulation in these years, kids have been getting measurably more intelligent -- the metrics look great -- but realistically less capable, and generally less able to do for themselves or have a connection with where the things that they need for sustenance come from and why they're there. They're great cogs, and they make great paper children, but where's the rest? Time will tell, of course. We need more evidence. But the first signs don't look good to me.

So, again, I have a huge respect for women that decide to take the lives of their children into their own hands and stay at home with them during their formative years.

But, I think there's a large contingent of women that don't decide to do this. They do it because they don't want to do anything else, and they use the feminist umbrella to hide their intentions. How many women are staying at home with the kids because they can't be bothered to get a job? And, how many of the same say that they chose to do it when, in reality, they just didn't have any other options? I think you know the type I'm talking about.

"I chose to stay at home with my kids" has quite a different connotation when you've been jobless and unemployable most of your life, compared to someone who strived toward a career or some other ambition and set the fervour of that ambition aside for a number of years to do the right thing by their children.

The logical complement to this argument is that there are some women that have no choice but to work, and put their children in daycare. Many single mothers simply could not make ends meet. And, many families these days can't get by without a dual income. And, we shouldn't condemn or criticize these women that must go out and work. They're doing what's best for their children in their particular situation. But, we can't also necessarily deem them ambitious, motivated career women. They did it because they had no choice.

V's point is solid, I think, because the women that genuinely decide to stay at home and raise their kids -- and decision implies that you had conviction in deciding between two or more alternatives -- are not likely to be the ones that nullify their own interests and abilities by spending their spare time sitting in front of American Idol. The ones that do the latter are the ones that can't be bothered to do anything else and, in truth, had no legitimate decision to make.

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Sunday, August 12, 2007

Oatmeal with Ontario peaches, prunes, and maple syrup

Peaches are in season at the moment in Ontario, so I found a way to include them into breakfast. Seems to work well.

So, you need:
  • 1 Ontario peach: I suppose they don't have to be Ontario ones, but they taste very good and they usually have a consistently good balance between firmness and ripeness when they're in season. If they're hard, let them ripen a bit first (this normally only takes a day)
  • 1/3 cup Rolled oats -- the long-cook kind: cooking times don't bother me much. There's not much difference to me between 3 minutes ("quick cook oats") and 10 minutes in the morning, because there's so much else I can be doing while they are cooking. The long-cook kind aren't as processed and retain more of their nutrients.
  • 3 Prunes: I get these from Bulk Barn. They're not complete dry, but kind of sticky and shrivelled
  • 1 cup water
  • salt
  • maple syrup: use the real stuff; not artificial. I like the Mennonite stuff from St. Jacobs.

Add a pinch of salt to the water and get it on the stove until it comes to a boil. Add the oats, reduce the heat (to a simmer), give it a stir, and cook uncovered for about 10 minutes.

While the oats are cooking, slice your knife into a peach until it touches the stone, and draw a line around the circumference of the peach with the knife (basically, you want to cut the peach in half with the stone still intact, holding the two halves together). Hold both halves of the peach and twist. One half should come free from the stone. Pry the stone out of the other half with a knife, or just use your hands. Then, dice the peach into medium-sized chunks. Add the peaches to a dish.

Slice the prunes into small-ish chunks. Add the prunes to the peaches.

Drizzle the fruit with maple syrup.

Give the oats a check. If they're going dry, add a little bit more water. Once the oats are done cooking, remove them from the heat, cover, and let them stand for a few minutes. Then, with a spatula, scrape the oats into the dish, covering the peaches and prunes. Use the spatula to fold everything together.

And, that's it. The oatmeal and maple syrup both have foundational, earthy tastes that work well together. The peaches add the sweetness and acidity at the opposite end of the spectrum. The prunes fill the gap in the middle.

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Saturday, August 04, 2007

Scrambled eggs with tarragon and chives (modèle de Matt)

I got tired of the usual scrambled eggs, so I came up with something a bit different. I used to slow cook the stuff in a saucepan, mix cheese and pepper in with it, and serve it on toast made with the cheapest bread I could find and add something silly like HP Sauce. Kind of bland, and not as healthy as it could be.

But, now, it's not so simple because I came up with the following method. I'll put specifically what I use, although the organic stuff is obviously optional and the regular variety can be used instead. For one serving, you need:

  • 2-3 chives: grown in the back yard, so it's easy to go out and pick a few

  • 1-2 inches sprigs of tarragon: grown in the front window, so this is also easy

  • 2 large free-run eggs: can use any eggs, as long as they're from a chicken

  • 1-2 tbsp. 3.8% organic whole milk: you can use any milk, really

  • 1 knob of butter: you could probably use margarine, but I'd have to kill you! If I wait long enough, though, the margarine itself will do it for me :)

  • slice of bread: I prefer something fluffy, toasted on the surface only. Store-made French/Italian bread will do. Would rather not use the industrial bread (i.e. Wonder) because of the preservatives.

  • sharp Cheddar cheese for grating: I'm using 3-year Balderson. Older cheddar grates better and is sharper.

So, first, heat a frying pan to a medium heat. While this is heating (assuming electric heat -- gas will be instant), do the ingredient preparation because you'll have to keep the eggs moving once they're in the pan.

Get the bread ready for toasting in the toaster (don't start toasting yet), combine and finely chop the chives and tarragon and set aside. Crack the eggs into a bowl, add the milk, and scramble with a fork or whisk.

Now, add the knob of butter to the frying pan and let it sizzle and melt down. Start the bread toasting. Give the milk/eggs one last whisk and, once the butter is melted, add the milk/eggs to the frying pan. Now, keep the eggs moving in the frying pan so that you don't end up with an omellette. At first, you'll have to keep chopping them up and folding them over with a spatula or something, and after that, you can toss them in the frying pan or do whatever else you prefer. Once the eggs are solid and not runny, turn off the stove and remove the eggs.

Put the toast on a plate, add the eggs, sprinkle the chopped herbs on top, and grate the cheddar over the top with a coarse grater.

The chives and tarragon go well together. Tarragon has a licoricey sort of taste that goes well with eggs, and chives are oniony, which goes very well with the cheddar cheese. The milk makes the eggs a bit lighter.

One of my favourites these days...

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