Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Yummy in My Tummy

Although I'm beginning to suspect that I have 2 readers (or less), I am going to push forward and present two recipes that I have recently made. I wish I had some beautiful pictures, but I guess you will have to suffice on your imagination. These recipes were actually very easy, so don't get scared by the number of steps.

Chicken Tagine with Apricots (Gourmet, April '08-- with a few subtle adjustments of my own)
1. Rinse 5-8 chicken thighs and/or drumsticks, skins removed (I've recently discovered how disgusting chicken breasts are, and how ridiculously DRY). Pat dry, and sprinkle with salt.
2. Heat 2 T oil in a heavy sauce pan (I use my dutch oven, just probably don't use a non-stick saucepan), and brown chicken parts, turning once, about 6-8 minutes. I used tongs so that I didn't poke the chicken and release the juices too early. Move to a plate.
3. In the same pan, add 1 T butter and sautee 5-6 shallots, cut finely, about 6 minutes. Add 1/2 t paprika, 1/2 t turmeric, and 5 cloves garlic, minced. Cook and stir for about 3 minutes.
4. Add chicken back to pan and 1/2 t salt. Turn chicken to coat. Add 1 C water and bring to a boil, covered, then turn down and cook at a low simmer for 30 minutes.
5. Add 4-6 T bitter orange marmalade (I used regular)-- more if you like it a little sweeter. Add a cinnamon stick, 1 sprig of thyme, and 2-3 sprigs of cilantro. You could probably leave out the thyme if you don't have any. Add 6 dried apricots, chopped. Stir and turn a little.
6. Simmer, covered, for 10 minutes. Uncover and simmer for 10-15 minutes more, until chicken is tender and almost falling off the bone. At this point you should taste the sauce and adjust as necessary. I usually add more marmalade, because I'm crazy.
7. Heat 1 T olive oil in a fry pan. Once it shimmers, stir in 1/4 C pine nuts, 1/4 t turmeric, 1/4 t paprika, and a pinch of cayenne (optional) and cook, stirring often until nuts are toasted (light brown). 1-2 minutes.
To serve, sprinkle spiced pine nuts on top. If you like, stir in extra chopped cilantro. Eat with rice. (serves 4-5)

And, just in time for May 5th, I made a flan (a week early, I know). I learned this flan recipe at a cooking class I went to with Da. It's SOOO easy, and it's definitely my favorite flan recipe.
Flan with Cheese
1. Heat 1 C sugar in a saucepan. Stirring frequently (preferably with a heat proof spatula) , heat over medium high heat until sugar melts completely, and turns a light amber color. It can burn very easily, so watch it carefully. Definitely do not touch it at all.
2. Spoon the caramel while it's hot into 8 individual ramekins or one glass pie pan. I usually just do the larger version. Let cool. Heat the oven to 350 degrees.
3. Meanwhile, in a blender mix 1 can evaporated milk, 1 can sweetened condensed milk, 4 eggs, 1 t cinnamon, and 4 oz of panela or other slightly salty, medium hard cheese (gouda works very well). Or, you may hate the idea of cheese, but I urge you to try it at least once. It is wonderful. I suppose you could leave it out if you had to. Put a little salt in if you do leave it out.
4. Blend for 1 minute or less, until the cheese seems finely dispersed, and then pour into pie pan. Cover with foil.
5. Place a large glass pan in the oven, and nest the smaller pan inside it. Pour hot water into the larger class pan until the water comes about halfway up the sides of the smaller pan. Cook for about 45-55 minutes. For ramekins, check at about 30-35 minutes. The flan is done when it is still a little jiggly in the middle, but a knife inserted in the middle comes out fairly clean.
Let cool for 40 minutes, then put in fridge. To serve, invert pie plate onto a serving platter.

Monday, April 28, 2008


I didn't hear the beginning of the conversation, but I came in at this:

Maiola: "Ghia, it's a dog!"

Ghia: "Yeah, but what ethnicity is it???"

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Language Acquisition

Amaya is learning lots of new ways to use words, and a few new words too. Yesterday Pam and I were having a very intellectual conversation while driving to Costco, and suddenly I notice that Amaya is sitting in the back seat saying, "Stupid" over and over again. Yeeeaaaah.
For the last few nights when she wakes up in the middle of the night (yes, she still wakes up in the middle of the night), she stands up and says very sweetly, "Hold you? Hold you?" and I really just can't resist. She cries if I don't get up right away, but usually I do. Darn it.
She's starting to learn how to sing. If I start singing "F is for fun, F is for fun, F is for Fake believe...." (They Might Be Giants video podcast) she immediately starts singing "F-- Fun-- for fun!" and dances around like crazy. Unfortunately I haven't learned any of the other words.

10 Things I Love About You, Saturday April 26th

Tagged by Da. I realized at 9:24 pm that I have to do the primary lesson tomorrow (which is why, obviously, I'm procrastinating). But today was still quite good, and here's my list.
1. We ate pancakes from a can this morning. I bought them yesterday from Costco. Bottled in a whipping cream looking can is pancake batter. I have to say, this is ingenious. I love love love from scratch pancakes, but some mornings I love sleep more. So this is a good on-the-side solution.
2. Upper pool Kahana hike. Gorgeous day, some vog in the air on the way back.
3. Rik and Eva are here, from Seattle, and they are also gorgeous. We knew Rik back from BYUH days, and we love his wife too, which doesn't always happen, especially with elitists like us. Eva is 5 months pregnant and Pam is notifying everyone that the thing around her waist is not a gut. It's hard to tell because Eva is so perfectly proportioned.
4. On the way back from Kahana, Eva gave up her seat in their rental car, a convertible. I love driving through strong wind. It makes one feel like singing (notice I did not say "me." I would never sing in the back of a rental convertible, unless I was by myself, in which case I would be sitting in the front.).
5. Scott and I made chocolate peanut butter vegan cupcakes, with chocolate peanut butter frosting. Yum. I of course ruined our perfectly vegan dessert by loading up on steak and chicken from Ted's takeout.
6. Amaya sat and watched 15 minutes (a record!) of a Numbers (season 2) episode with me before getting bored enough to get out the back door.
7. Like I just said, I got to watch 15 minutes of Numbers today. I love Rob Morrow, back from Northern Exposure days. He is still awesome, and doesn't look like he's aged a second.
8. Jake read me Jill's comment to my "Sisterly Envy" post, which was really sweet. She said that she sometimes wished she looked and was more like me. That's totally crazy of course, but sweet. I think it's really the other way around. She is the kind of positive that I wish I could be.
9. When we were getting out of the car to start hiking at Kahana Valley, someone said, "We're going hiking, Amaya!" She replied, in a bored sounding voice, "Oh boy." She is cracking me up lately.
10. I am able to post this blog right now without Jake getting mad at me for being on the computer when I should be hanging out with him. He's at his studio with Rik and Eva.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Torta Di Cioccolata Al Forno Con Vaniglia E Nocciola

"Perugian-Style Chocolate Hazelnut Cheesecake" (Gourmet, April 2008)

This tastes especially awesome the next day, because it becomes more dense over time. I made it without the hazelnuts. I like hazelnuts (in Oregon we would call them "filberts"), they just didn't have any at Foodland. Gourmet is my 2nd favorite magazine behind Cook's Illustrated. Their pictures are beautiful and I like the destination articles. This issue was all Italy. Don't be turned off by the fact that it's from Gourmet magazine. It's a super easy recipe. If you like chocolate, this is a perfect cheesecake.

Active time: 30 min


1/4 lb wheatmeal crackers (Carr's Wheat Crackers) finely crushed, about 1 C

1 oz fine-quality bittersweet chocolate (no more than 65% cacao), grated

1/2 stick unsalted butter, melted


1/2 lb fine-quality bittersweet chocolate, chopped

1 stick unsalted butter, cut into pieces

1 lb 2 oz cream cheese, at room temperature

1/2 C sour cream

1/2 t pure vanilla extract

2 large eggs

2/3 C superfine granulated sugar (I used regular, actually)

1 C hazelnuts (4 1/2 oz) toasted, chopped

Equipment: 10" springform pan

Make Crust: Combine all ingredients, then press onto bottom of springform pan.

Make filling: preheat oven to 325 F with rack in middle

Melt chocolate with butter, then remove from heat and whisk in cream cheese until smooth. Whisk in sour cream and vanilla.

Whisk together eggs and sugar in large bowl until mixture has a mousse-like consistency, then stir in chocolate mixture and nuts.

Pour filling into crust and bake 1 1/2 hours. (top will be slightly cracked.)

Cool to room temperature in pan on a rack, about 1 hour, then chill at least 1 hour.


Today I said the words 'awesome' and 'awful' in one sentence. I believe I've read comment on the silly construction and denotations of those words, before, though I still stopped for a second once I said them out loud. Those words have been really bugging me ever since. I guess there is too much of a good thing.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Bring It

So I bought this. It's a used copy--no, I would never pay full price for such a thing, but I will say that it was Erin Summerill who got me interested in it in the first place, because I normally would never even consider such a weirdo thing. If I had actually seen the ad on TV I would have never looked at it twice. Now that I have seen the ad, I realize that I have now forever associated myself with the exercise-obsessed, could be personal trainers group. The type of people that consider a protein shake to be a good substitute for a meal. And it's kicking my butt. Well, maybe more like hurting my butt. Badly. I have some sort of weird belief that any exercise that is not really difficult is not exercise at all. I don't believe in long walks for exercise or going to the beach to get in the water. I believe in those things for relaxation or fun, but I feel cheated if I don't leave an exercise feeling really sweaty and worked. Since I have so little time to get exercise, I always want to maximize. My knee has been messed up so running has been put on the back burner, and I can really only exercise late at night, or at 6 in the morning, so most other things are out of the question. I'm not following the program exactly (definitely not doing the diet), but my plan is to do at least one video a day, if I don't get to play frisbee or something else.
I did synergistics core on Thursday (consisting of approximately 1000 lunges within an hour period), and then Kenpo x (a hilarious travesty, really, because I couldn't remember 4 different style punches in a row, coupled with the fact that I can't punch at all) on Saturday, and then Plyometrics (which was hard, but possible) yesterday morning. Last night before bed the backs of my legs felt bruised, as if I'd been riding a horse for 2 days. Today I had a hard time bending down, and I've never even known that I had hip flexors before today. Now they are making their presence known, and they are revolting.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

The Incredible Shrinking Pants

I inherited these jeans from Da, who said they were too small for her. I find them magical, as can be seen from the photos.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Sisterly Envy

Saya is in my freshman English class this year so is finding herself being compared to me at every turn. Something to do with her 1/2 Japanese heritage and black framed glasses. Truthfully, we don't look that much alike; people just kind of think that all Asians look the same. She's much cuter than I am, and she knows it. The first time this comparison happened her face had this look as if she had just been slapped. Pretty soon she started seeing the benefits of being a sister to her English teacher, but I still kick her out of my teacher's chair every time.
Luckily, she's pretty hard working and down to earth, so I don't have to worry about her taking advantage of much. She's also the kind of girl that you want to be friends with immediately because she's funny (ha ha) and strange (fun) and for that reason I'm flattered by the comparison.

This is also the girl that if she's in the right silly mood can be particularly, well, truthful. The kind of truthful that adults always applaud kids for having, but often just means that they know exactly how to insult you. I've been insulted plenty in that class (one girl asked what my body fat percentage was), but Saya hit a new level a few days ago. All in the same class period she said that I didn't have very many shirts (because someone accused me of wearing the same shirt 2 days in a row), felt my arm and asked me what was wrong with it (because of all the bumps on it, due to a skin condition called KP) and then when I explained what it was she thought it was also on my nose (I'm guessing she's referring to blackheads or something), and butted into another conversation I was having with a student and asked me how much I weighed. When I asked her for a picture for this post, she asked me why, suggesting that I needed to put it as my profile picture because I thought I was too fat for a picture. Cute, isn't she?

But this entry is not how I cried myself to sleep that night (kidding), it's about how she told me that she and her friends hopped on a bus after the literature festival to go see a movie. It was strange, but I was immediately jealous of the freedom that someone, anyone might have to do such a thing. I hate riding the bus, I definitely hate "Prom Night" (even without seeing it), yet the idea that kids can, completely independent of obligation and responsibility to other people, act in response to selfish interests. I found myself thinking, "What? Didn't you have things to do? Homework? Parents to attend to?" Of course the answer to these questions just reveals the difference between us. Normally I don't feel burdened by my responsibility (I rarely feel the need to run away and breathe for a couple of hours) but I suddenly realized, in an overwhelming way, that I am light years away from the kind of spontaneous freedom kids take for granted. Instead, they complain about the responsibilities that they do have, which seem so large to them, and exquisite to us.

Perspective can be so ruinous to one's current contentment. I'd rather just forget that I ever expressed ingratitude for my irresponsible teenage-hood. And it was largely irresponsible, even if I did practice the piano, participated in sports, hung out with my boyfriend(s), and had AP classes. The key is that you could put the word "play" in front of most items on my list of responsibilites.

It was a brief feeling, but I've been considering it ever since. I don't take it to mean that I feel oppressed in any way, or overwhelmed by my busy life, or that I should just take a mid-life crisis leap into an away direction. More that I am so impressed with the folly of youth. And not in a sarcastic way. That's really what is so lovely and innocent about it.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

What you should be doing right now...

Making these--- for me.

3 Wishes for Public Education

I wish...
1. That "No Child Left Behind" will cease to mean "No Child Gets Ahead"

2. That when a student graduates, it means that the kid did something and knows something, not did something or knows something.

3. That learning could be more meaningful to people than grades.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Embrace Yourself

Instead of working to change myself, through hypnosis, plastic surgery, or hard work, I have learned to re-realize myself and play off these less-than-perfect aspects of myself as points of pride.

1. My name + bad handwriting=cool signature. My awful scrawl is something I tried to correct as a child (using penmanship books to practice cursive and print), but I've started taking pride in my arabic looking handwriting. Although Spendlove is a name that I have also learned to embrace despite enduring years of bad jokes, 'Jackson' has a nice look when I sign my name. I enjoy the looks I get when I dash off a check or a field trip form. "Is this for real?" is what people's eyes say to my .2 second loops. I like its form on paper, which is great since for my entire elementary through high school career I experimented with a decent way to write my name. The problem is that the letters are very uneven all together (and plainly written out so that you can actually see what all of the letters are), and I always felt like the look of it sort of mimicked (read "mocked") my own physical and social unevenness. Now I think, "Yeah, that's cool," when I see those two scrawls that represent my person.

2. My feet + wide shoes = flat and fashionable. I have no arch. Some of you may be thinking, "big deal," but I doubt that your own mother made you stand on a dowel as a child to press curves into your feet (she swears that it works, but my feet are as flat as a duck's). Arches also provide a way for your foot to not squish out all over the place, despite its length. My own feet stretch as far width wise as they do long. Maybe I'm exaggerating a tad. I used to look at certain shoe styles and wish that I could strut around in those Keds, nike running shoes, or cute heels. Well, it took a while, but I finally found my niche. I have wide shoes that have style, with an element of dorkiness. I stick as much as possible to shoes without tongues or laces, because I have no height on the top of my foot and the tongue gets all bunched up. My current favorite shoes are shown-- and I doubt many people could pull this look off.

3. Messy + Stressed = Appears Industrious. I actually started this post because I got super frustrated at the fact that my bread is not rising (but the recipe in "Gourmet" insisted on 130 degree temperature milk! How was I supposed to know it would kill the yeast?) and because I cannot find my W-2 for 2007. Today is April 13, just in case you yourself have put this beautiful ritual off. I'm sure I put the w-2 in my "extra-special financial papers" section in its extra special semi-pile on top of the bookcase. Now that I've torn the house inside out looking for it and made piles of paper on my bed, I abandoned my search and started writing this post. But man, am I BUSY! Too busy to even finish one task at a time! And I must have some chocolate to soothe my frayed nerves. Especially since Amaya was born, I often find myself considering the next chore while starting another, and then dabbling it all with leisurely productivity.

4. Obsession with food + annoyingly large pile of cookbooks = Foodie. I have discovered that the difference between a foodie and a person with a problem is the quality of the food that the person eats. As long as Gourmet and Cook's Illustrated are the 2 magazines that I pour over and over again every month, and I prefer to visit Maharani Indian Restaurant over McDonald's, people think that I have some sort of sophistication when it comes to food. It also helps when you make food for other people. If you can read at all, you can cook, and any patience I have with cooking is my real obsession with the end product, and people seem to respect that as someone who cares about taste. They also believe that you have talent. At present count I have 22 cookbooks, 50+ copies of food magazines, and a large folder filled with cut out recipes. I have 13 food blog sites on my favorites list, which I check regularly. I also check new blogs out all of the time. I recently dowloaded all of the Diary of a Foodie episodes on itunes. Am I protraying the magnitude of my interest here?
Here's my non-rising bread. It was stuffed with prosciutto, sundried tomatoes, spinach, and asiago (which is exactly like mozarella but twice the price--at least the one from costco). It was a bit dense, but tasted "ok."Pam saved us with salad, asparagus, and mashed potatoes. Luckily.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Morning for Beginners

At 5:30 am
I’m up.
I do this sporadically, waking up at odd hours to get exercise.
Usually I’d rather be coaxed by the warmth of sleep
but I put my Adidas on and start jogging
on the side of the road in between streetlights
I’m hit by balmy darkness

between houses I see pinkish goldenrod
in slits
making its way up through the ocean
each stripe like an exaggerated ray

the crackling gravel makes my feet slide, slightly,
scraping ground with their rubber soles
my senses are awake

How do we get to these places?
running through muggy winds
on a slow pace
watching suns rise on the side?

I feel the sleep that
rests over Laie, softly
like tides that fall back on the sand
while composing into our shore
unread verses of slopes and foam.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Going Public

Yeah, I did it. I erased the post. The scandal. Sorry, I'm wimpy, and can't stand up for myself, apparently.
Myrna Marler, in past times, has repeated the quote "Writers are very private people who walk around naked in public" to me, and I guess I only sort of believed it. I just wasn't quite expecting a googling, a searching, and a finding, of a naked person. Certainly not of me. Possibly more likely of someone with a name like "Kitty".
My students often complain about how nasty I am because I let my sarcasm grind their naive and insolent behavior to bits, while I still maintain some level of decency because of my fierce standards in literature, work, and humanity. Plus I let them play Taboo the last five minutes of class sometimes.
So I admit that I was a little ashamed that this post had actually been read by the offendee. Not because it wasn't just, but because it sort of revealed how incredibly spiteful I am. I don't take defense lightly, mind you. I get very antsy about being defensive. It sort of ruins the whole image that I'd like to maintain. I'd rather be the sort of person who walks away from such an awful conversation and just says, to myself, "That person has a problem and that's too bad", rather than the person who says, to others, "Now what is HER problem?"
Then again, I have a great suspicion of people who can just forget things and move on with their lives. Just who do they think they are, making the rest of us look bad?

Wednesday, April 9, 2008


If you are at all as interested in food as I am, then you must check out "Diary of a Foodie". It is a show on PBS but you can download the episodes on itunes from
Only season one is available with the full episodes, but there are quite a few so it will take you a little while to get through those. The first episode is about China, and the only problem with this show is that I immediately want to pick up and go to wherever they are showing food. I also have an obsession with cookbooks, so this show does nothing to quell that.
I also am loving the book Hungry Planet: What the World Eats, which photographs families around the world with a week's worth of their food (prepared and ingredients). It is fascinating, and the best part, is that there is a recipe for every section. It does make me feel sick when I look at the American families versus a refugee family in Bhutan (it even breaks down how much everything costs). The stories are amazing and I think that if everyone should get this book, and no one even paid me to say that.

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Evidence of an Advanced Mind

What's that you say? Your child is reading? Identifying Australian mammals? Creating mixed media collages? Speaking in full sentences? Mine is watching "Adventure Time" and appreciating its nuanced comic genius. Oh, and saying "Shake it, Yeah" while dancing to the closing song.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Still think she's just Jackson?

Some classics of me I came across when I was home in Oregon... I usually hate all pictures of me, but I have to admit that I like these ones. I think I look pretty similar to Amaya, so everyone can stop saying she looks just like her dad. Not that he's not handsome, but you know. It gets old. The black and white one looks just like Amaya, I think. Old pictures look so much better, don't they? And my parents are so cute. It will be harder for Amaya to say that when she's looking back on our pictures. We pulled out the kimono and got a few of Amaya, so here's one of her too.