Sunday, October 30, 2011

Somethin' Pumpkin

Here are some random pictures from the season interspersed with my own October Project: learning new pumpkin-related recipes. Here's the line up.

Week one: Pumpkin Curry.

My first pumpkin attempt was so nice & tasty that I had it for lunch several days running. It's very orange.
(Here's Bastrop, where I got to haul chainsawed trees and sort through ashes, and move rubble. Sad, but nice to see all the people helping out.)

1 chopped onion
1 can chicken bits
1 tablespoon yellow curry
1/2 cup yellow raisins
2 cups chopped carrots
1 raw sugar pumpkin, in big peices (like 1/4 a pumpkin each), seeds removed

In a crock-pot throw all ingredients, cook all day. Then scrape the soft pumpkin out of the shell (should be soft now), stir in and heat a little longer. The pumpkin makes the curry less kicky. Tis nice.

Week Two: Spice Pumpkin Seeds Party Mix
Gretchen says these are like crack. I altered another recipe and made them twice--once for practice and once for our Halloween party)
(6 Flags near Scooby Doo ride. The boy who took this picture was 14-ish and with his JROTC group.)

Cleaned, dried, roasted pumpkin seeds (325 degrees for 25 minutes and salt ought to do it)
3 cups corn chex
1 cup sugar
chili powder

Mix the sugar and spices together. Throw all ingredients in medium-hot skillet to caramelize and coat. When covered, place on wax paper to dry.

(At Diwali, this old man --back to us-- told me to go light some more candles, because Diwali is all about "catching the fire." Appropriately wise, mysterious kind old man.)

Week Three: Beef Pumpkin Stew

I made this for the missionaries for lunch. Of course it's like 80 degrees out, but it feels so homey and smells wonderful. If I lived close to a bakery, I'd serve it in those little pumpkin bread bowls. Feels like something Mom would make us eat to balance out all the candy.

2 lbs stew meat
1 large white onion
15 oz canned tomatoes
2 yams, peeled and chopped
1/2 cup yellow raisins
4 Carrots, ditto
cracked pepper, salt, oregano
1 sugar pumpkin, hollowed out

Brown beef and onion. Add water and other ingredients. Simmer for 4-6 hours. Put the whole mess in the pumpkin and then in the oven 350 deg. for another couple hours. When you scoop out the stew, scoop pumpkin with it.

(Here's my ringleader costume. Fun fact: I wear everything here pretty regularly, except the top hat and the whip.)

Week four: Pumpkin orange pie

(I haven't actually made this yet--it's for my last week, & tomorrow's ward party FHE. I'm psyched about it, though)

1/2 c pumpkin puree
2 Tbsp brown sugar
1 tsp pumpkin pie spice
3 cup vanilla frozen yogurt
choclate pie crust
1 1/2 c orange sherbert
whipped topping & oranges

Mix the first three and then add half the frozen yogurt. Put in chocolate pie crust. Then a layer of orange sherbert, then a later of the rest of the frozen yogurt. Finally, whipped topping and orange garnishes. I'm so excited about the pumpkin-orange combo. I'll let you know how it goes.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Over-impassioned Book Review of Globesity That Was Too Good for Just Goodreads

Two very cool things about this book:

1). Coming from a French and British perspective, it's already a little more "globesity expert" just from situated authority. Even better, while most of the research for this book /has/ taken place in the developed world, Delpeuch is quick to remind us that the obesity epidemic is going to hit the developing world like a freight train. Carrying lard. Old "high energy density" eating habits with new urbanized sedentary lives, plus an increased desire among the upwardly mobile for red meat and sweets create the bizarre world where in one country, in one city, in one household, there could be both radical undernourishment and dangerous over-eating.

2). The answers to the problem are also very European. "Stop telling fat people to be more puritan about food and exercise," this book declares, "and start changing their environments!" Frequently citing how the anti-smoking laws in England cut smoking rates, the suggestions at the end include a measly 1% tax on sugary bubbly (which Delpeuch claims wouldn't even affect sales), to more walkable new communities, to business-sponsored sports facilities. Make the trail easier! Take political action! Talk with your boss!

Although I'm wary of plenty of Delpeuch's claims (like that enjoying a diversity of food options--including fruits and veg--is a bad thing, and that people should eat only those things their culture has adapted to eat--which smacks of racism), I'm pretty convinced by much of his argument. If obesity is such a big deal and affects so many besides just those whom it afflicts, we ought to do something about it.

Take Austin's sidewalk problem for example. There is one corner of sidewalk on the way to the elementary school I run past. Let me say it again: one corner. The sidewalk disappears on one side into grass, someone's lawn and then fence, leaving you (or the school children) to brave the busy road full of barreling SUVs giving their children --what else?--rides to school. There is literally no way to let your kid walk to school with the injunction "don't walk in the street." My apartment complex is similar: although many people in my complex come from less car-obsessed cultures (like Pakistan, for example, or California), our complex has suddenly disappearing sidewalks and no lit walkways to and from the office building. People go out for a stroll through the parking lot.

Sometimes there are sidewalks, like in the Rutland neighborhood, but there are no lamp lights and people feel unsafe. I took the bus home a little later than usual and could barely make out the landmarks that herald my stop. Everything is dark and scary. Now, I know low rates of walking is the least of Rutland's poverty problems, but maybe we should at least take the basic steps of providing areas that are well-lit, safe and clean.

And the weird thing is that Austin prides itself in being "active," meaning that there are bike trails in parks that you can drive to (the park I like to use, Walnut Creek, has no access sidewalk. I run through the wild grasses, or sometimes on the road. I don't know what small children or people in a wheelchair would do.) and enjoy if you are rich. AND last year they approved a bill for more trails, all under the halo of that this will encourage more physical activity. As someone who uses the trail system several times a week, I voted against it. It seemed like a tax on poor people to benefit rich people. If we really were concerned with helping people be more active, we would, as Delpeuch suggests, stop making good health a hobby of those rich and vain enough to pursue it and make it an integrated part of everyday existance.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Field Exam Fairy

Scene: Upper floor Calhoun Hall. One MARY, in a black turtleneck and grey skirt, self-consciously businesslike, is pacing the halls looking over her notes of her field exam and reciting her impassioned introductory speech in her mind. Near ENGLISH OFFICE, a YOUNG MAN, tall, black, in trendy clothing. He appears to be looking for something.

MARY: Hey, are you looking for something?

YOUNG MAN: I think so, but I haven't found it.

MARY: I wouldn't be much use for you. [beat] I barely know this building myself. {nervous laughter}

YOUNG MAN: What's that? holds out his hand for papers

MARY: Oh, these are just the notes for my field exam. [she hesitates, then hands them over]

YOUNG MAN: [looking them over] Hmm, hmm, that the last page?

MARY: Uh, these are my notes for my presentation. [hands over the last sheet] It's about, you know, being a specialist and a generalist at the same time. In rhetoric.

YOUNG MAN: [still thoughtfully engrossed in the papers, then, looks up, soulfully, into MARY's eyes] I think you're going to be just fine.

MARY: Uh. Thanks. [She takes her papers back from him and takes a few steps towards the room where her committee is still meeting. Then, over her shoulder.] I hope you find what you're looking for.

YOUNG MAN: You too.

End scene

Sunday, October 16, 2011

15 Items I Am Unsure How to Store After Staying Up Until 3 am Cleaning My Desk

1: beanie baby chicken

2: brown-and-pink hand-dipped candle

3: external hard drive that doesn't (as far as I can tell) work at all

4: several almost-finished novelty post-its

5: money tree seed

6: little tiny gift box someone gave me a USB drive in

7: henna inking kit

8: pen shells with no cartridges in them

9: foreign coins

10: post-it notes sketching out (far distant) prospectus ideas

11: WWKBD (what would Kenneth Burke do) rubber bracelet

12: Ex Libris labels

13: National Zoo wildlife conservation sticker

14: roll of 200 smiley face stickers (red left only)

15: really cool headphones that only work if the cord's in just the right place

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Two Extremes (as usual) in Education

As I go from adviser to adviser at UT as well as BYU, I seem to get two theories of the PhD (and education in general): either you jump through the hoops and get it over with or else you take joy in the journey and let your ideas build and ferment. In economic terms, the first embraces the Spense signaling theory, which declares that getting degrees and letters after our names is just a way of demonstrating WHO we already are (smarty pants), while the latter suggests that education is an accumulation of human capital--you're actually learning something you couldn't have gotten somewhere else. If I buy into the former, I need to graduate as soon as possible, under the bar, to prove myself and then just rush into the career I've been long prepared for. If I buy into the latter, I should take my time.

For a long time I was a "long, steady and intense" kind of girl. 18 credit hours a semester. Three semesters a year. I was 3 classes away from a 2nd major in economics and 2 away from a minor in film when I graduated. I took classes for fun. I scoffed at people who wanted to get GE's "out of the way" and graduate early. But now that I'm in grad school, I can see the appeal of wanting to finish--I want to apply for jobs. I want to have a career, not just be a perceptual student, doing essentially the same thing I've been doing for ten years (see my post of being unsettled). Also, I realize how much I've learned to teach myself. Some things, like learning Latin or statistics, are bone-crushing to try to do without deadlines and a teacher/tutor, but many things, like reading books in the field, thinking and talking about them, can take place if not on my own, then at least outside the classroom with similarly-minded people. I know how to learn.

The problem is,then, that I have advisers on both extremes on my field exam committee. So am I trying to get to my prospectus as soon as possible or letting my ideas slow-cook? I don't know. I do know that curiosity is my greatest academic virtue while diligence and consistence are my greatest failings. What do I do NOW to balance these? I don't just want to graduate, but I want to graduate prepared.