Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Starting slow: Exercising for Five Minutes in the Morning

The past couple of weeks have been really cold in Boston, and I've been avoiding walking outside. Usually this is my main exercise. This decline in exercise is just part of being in Boston in winter. It's funny that, as a public health person I have a strong sense of what I would benefit from doing, but in the cold it just becomes way to daunting (and I'm not going to get gym membership). Do any of you feel like that?

In response, I decided that, while the coffee was brewing in the stovetop expresso maker in the morning, and while the milk was being heated up, I would excercise. It's an extremely short amount of time (5-10 minutes), but I can already notice the difference during the day and also in the evening when I go to bed. I feel more awake and can relax really quickly when I fall into bed. I think what makes it easy for me is knowing it's a very short time, and that if I want to I can do more but only those few minutes are obligatory. It's just a place to start.

I do some pilates and a couple of yoga exercises (sun salutations). If you're interested in starting some beginner exercises, there's a lot of great websites that show the movements and explain what you need to be careful of while doing the exercise (for example, this one).

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Update: The Label Maker

Label Making has been really effective in keeping tabs on things, and it is also very gratifying. Our label maker cost about $34, and the reels of label tape cost about $12. This was because we use a particular stationery company, rather than because this is a great deal. Even though it means getting another "thing" in the office, another use of resources-- financial and environmental-- I think it was really essential for being more effective and less wasteful in the long term. It makes filing quick, easy, and fun.

Beginning to think about recycling has been slower than I expected, because I do it when I'm not doing anything else at work.

In thinking environmentally, my observation is that once a paper is printed, as things are now, it will not be recycled. It may just sit around the office and cause more paper to be printed if it does not have a clear place or is shredded immediately. The trick is to make finding the paper easier than printing a new copy, particularly for the busiest people in your office.

I haven't been playing environmental music in the office or putting off the lights while my coworkers are on the phone-- it's much harder to persuade people that taking good, conservative care of resources is as important in the office as at home. It's hard for me personally because I'm not interested in taking paper home to recycle, etc. Admitting that makes it easier to just throw away stuff that doesn't seem important to our day-to-day functioning.

I try to remember that I am wasteful in other parts of my life, so it's not a matter of making someone guilty for their priorities. It's not even a matter of educatiing my coworkers. It's a matter of figuring out together what is possible and practical in the context of our office, and pushing very slowly in one direction.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Canadian Health Care: A(n Abridged) Primer by Neasa Coll

I'm excited to introduce you to the first guest post (hopefully the first of many!) by Neasa Coll. Neasa and I went to UWC together in Wales, and were also together in Boston our undergrad years-- she in Harvard and I in Wellesley. I fondly remember our breakfasts together in the Dining Hall at AC! Since then, she has returned to Calgary and we have found ourselves thinking of similar things. I am really grateful for her willingness to contribute to this small blog, and am really looking forward to the last two posts in this series. Thank you so much!


In November 2004, Canada’s national broadcaster, the CBC, encouraged audiences to nominate the country’s “Greatest Canadian.” The top ten nominees included a number of internationally recognizable names: Wayne Gretzky, David Suzuki, Alexander Graham Bell, Frederick Banting.

So who won?

Tommy Douglas – not a hockey player at all, but a prairie politician, and the father of Canada’s public health care system. Douglas holds an important place in Canada’s national imagination (most of us either don’t know about, or turn a blind eye to his early scholarly work on eugenics, which he thankfully abandoned following experiences in Chicago and Germany).

Douglas’ win was no small testament to the value placed on public health care in Canada, and its significance in terms of our national identity. Public portrayals of Canada’s health care system, such as that in Michael Moore’s “Sicko,” only serve to perpetuate the misunderstanding that health care inequities don’t exist in this country. They do – but they don’t have to.

The causes of health care inequities (and subsequent solutions) are multiple and complex, and are best understood within the framework of Canada’s health care system. I’m certainly not an expert, but what follows is a brief (amateur) explanation of health care in Canada:

The Canada Health Act, passed in 1984, ensures “that all residents of Canada have reasonable access to medically necessary hospital and physician services on a prepaid basis, and on uniform terms and conditions.” We don’t have, however, a national health plan. Instead, the 13 provincial and territorial governments provide health insurance plans that must adhere to the requirements of the Canada Health Act. What this means is that health coverage varies from province to province and territory to territory.

For instance, physiotherapy is fully covered by Saskatchewan’s health plan, but is not covered at all by Alberta Health & Wellness (although it was, at one point in the recent past). Another example is eye exams and optometrist services, which are usually fully covered for those under the age of 18 and over the age of 65, but not for anyone between those ages. The extent of provincial/territorial coverage (or partial coverage, for some services) depends entirely upon where you live as a Canadian resident.

(The health care equation becomes more complicated when I explain that health care systems are funded via a combination of federal transfer payments and provincial/territorial taxes or premiums, depending upon where you live. Also, the federal government (not provincial or territorial governments) is responsible for providing health care to veterans, federal inmates, members of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, and Aboriginal peoples living on reserves. I maintain that health coverage in Canada is impressive and generally worry-free – but gaps do exist.

So what fills in the health care gaps? Private insurance. Employers and schools in Canada provide benefit packages that make up about 30% of health care expenditures in Canada. This includes coverage for prescription drugs, complementary health services, dental care, and “wellness” expenses such as gym memberships or exercise equipment. Anyone self-employed, not a student, or otherwise not receiving benefits has to purchase private health insurance or risk the potential costs of independently paying for medications, rehabilitation therapies, or any other services that happen to fall outside of their provincial/territorial plan. (What exactly falls outside these plans depends upon the nature of the health concern.) Given the extent of coverage under our public health care plans, however, the cost to employers (and even individuals) of supplementary coverage is minimal compared to that in a country such as the United States, and the coverage itself tends to be far superior in terms of scope.

For a country that publicly prides itself on providing health care for all, there is a surprising amount of political talk about privatization or the creation of a two-tiered health system. In 2002, however, a report was made by the Commission on the Future of Health Care in Canada, a government-created initiative to review the state of Canada’s health system. That report proposed sweeping changes to Canada’s health care program, but only to make it more comprehensive, more public, and ultimately to strengthen and ensure the longevity of universal health care. In reviewing health systems around the globe, the report ultimately concluded the public health plans are cost-effective, efficient, and sustainable – more so than any sort of private health system. (For those interested, the full report and supporting documents can be found here)

Although reports show time and time again that health care as a commodity is, quite simply, a market failure, the debates continue. Those debates often focus on cost, cost-effectiveness, and the economics of public vs. private health care.

But let’s step away from the dollar quotient. Isn’t health care inextricably linked to social justice? Shouldn’t the conversations be about health care as a right, as opposed to a privilege?


More to come…

Check back soon for two future posts by Neasa.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Thinking through International Understanding in the UWC movement

Jo Hunter Adams

As many of you know, I was privileged to attend a United World College in Wales during my final two years of school. Here I want to think about how the UWC experience relates to imperialism-- imperialism with a small i.*

It's one of ten such United World Colleges in the world, and the students are from an extraordinarily wide range of backgrounds-- economically, socially, geographically and ethnically. There I met some of the people I respect and love most in the world even now, 8.5 years after I left for AC.

One idea driving the UWC movement is that, in order to incubate international understanding, you really have to live with the person you consider most unlike you. An Israeli student said that it was a miracle not to like a Palestinian and that dislike be personal, and not based on identity. We were literally in each others' pockets, forced to really understand and enjoy one another's quirks, languages and cultures.

Since UWC I've been studying and struggling through the concepts of colonialism and imperialism-- in books and real life. My masters degree in South Africa focused on how, after apartheid, a hegemonic discourse persists, and I was thinking about this related to the UWC movement. You're thinking, what on earth is hegemonic discourse!? Or maybe you're not, because you know already. Either way, it's the idea that the way that people in power in a society think and express themselves becomes the way that everyone in that society speaks. For example, a group of people may be valued for the great dances or food they offer the world. Others are valued simply because of where they stand in the world. Hilary Clinton might have to prove that she's a leader then prove that she's a human in two breaths, when Obama simply is.

I think that the UWC environment was truly amazing for addressing overt racism in an unpretentious way. For me it also may have made space to think about more subtle racism later-- to think what it meant to value speaking up, becoming articulate, being open-minded.

Yet it also created a sense of values that was related to success-- perhaps this is the 'imperialism with a small i'. It made me feel particularly excellent-- something mirrored in Wellesley and beyond. It also made me feel independently excellent, and perhaps pretty proud of what I could bring the world because of my unique experiences.

Maybe this sense is inevitable- what do you think? It's not even a bad thing, necessarily. But I've been thinking how important it is to feel that people-- all people, particularly those you seek to serve-- contribute to your life and your perspective, and not only that you have a contribution to make to the world. The attitude that I am there to contribute something can make relationships incredibly frustrating.

I like what Jean Vanier of L'Arche repeated frequently: "Jesus did not say 'Blessed are those who care for the poor' but 'Blessed are the poor.'" Beyond how we think about the poor, maybe it's also how we think about all people less valued in our society. I certainly don't have it figured out, but it's good to reflect on.

*particularly the ideas in Edward Said's Culture and Imperialism and Gramsci's concept of hegemonic discourse.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

News on Europe's Energy "Plan of Action"

According to BBC, the European commission has committed to a 20% decrease in Carbon emissions by 2020.

Here's a summary:
AIM: reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2020
AIM: reduction in energy imports, saving money and increasing energy security
AIM: world leadership in renewable energy technology
CHALLENGE: government and companies may try to weaken their emissions targets
CHALLENGE: some countries likely to find renewables targets very ambitious
CHALLENGE: wrangles likely over technicalities of ETS


Business Recycling in Boston

I was learning about paper recycling, and had had no idea until I spoke to my husband that businesses must actually pay to recycle. This was a great disappointment to me. I guess it must be the cost of employees and trucks that makes recycling cost-ineffective for recyclers of large quantities. I wonder if it is legal for businesses to take recycling to recycling depots? This cost must deter so many businesses from attempting to recycle.

In Waltham, there are options for recycling to make it easier for businesses. Waltham is a wealthy suburb about 20-30 minutes outside of Boston. The interesting thing is that recycling is mandated in Waltham. I think it's just a matter of time before this is the case in Boston proper, but it would be great to begin preemptively.

I also found this resource on line for small businesses who want to recycle. There seem to be an infinite number of places to call, but it's still pretty daunting. If you're a small business in Boston who recycles, or wants to, could you tell me about your experiences?

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Those of you Cycling in Boston

I came across this article about a cycling shop in Boston. Thought it was really interesting.

Friday, January 18, 2008

The Office and Long-Term Change

I work in a very small non-profit organization with a relatively high number of part-time employees (myself included), and I've been thinking about how to make the office function more smoothly, as I sometimes have an administrative role, or just a free couple of hours. For those of you in small offices, I'd be really interested to hear about how you work to make the office a simpler place.

I think one major challenge is that we work primarily with people-- rather than ideas, things, numbers or words-- and so our major tools are our voices, our language skills, and our connections to communities and state agencies. Unfortunately, although we work mainly with people we have to somehow convey what we do to funders, and keep tabs on what we do.

Thus one main reason I think this is important is that streamlining-- having a simple, accessible filing system, simple e-mail, and standardized labelling system would help people who are new to the office, and help people who are just around for a short time better slot in and be useful. And I think it would also significantly reduce waste if we could link our computers together and have access to electronic files rather than having to print out all the time. The challenge is everyone really needs to be on board with anything new, and so change has to be gradual to be sustainable.

Simplifying the office should not be about looking good or about being part of a trend, but about what works in a particular context so that people can do the job that matters most well. I've been struggling to figure out what exactly this means in the context of our NGO. So, I will let you know how introducing recycling to the office goes.

The first two steps I'm beginning with are standardizing our labelling of files (I bought a label maker today!) and learning how to recycle paper. That's my goal for January. In February I'd like to think more about computers. I know that most offices have really simple networking systems, and I'd like to learn more. It seems so basic but if you're in an office that doesn't use a lot of e-mail communication or filesharing, it is pretty daunting.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

South African Politics: A Graphic

A cynical view, perhaps? (credit given on graphic) Click to enlarge.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Gloria Steinem, my granny and Adsense/Paypal

One day, an army of grey-haired women may quietly take over the earth- Gloria Steinem


Side note:
You may have noticed that I've put adsense and paypal bars on the side of this page. These are not meant as an obnoxious appeal to make me money-- and I am absolutely not making money from the site right now.

I've just put them there with the thought that I can get support once there is more content, and because I am thinking about different ways to think about work. Ultimately, I want to build content more than make money. Anyway, please don't hesitate to contact me if you feel uncomfortable with this.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Enjoying the Seasons, and some Insights on heat

My high-school friend Emily gave me some insights on some things that I asked about, and so I post her insights verbatim. Thank you Emily!

Berries: eating frozen berries (preferably locally grown) when out of season is preferable to eating berries shipped from far far away. Picking berries at U-Pick farms and CSAs (often located a short distance from cities) and freezing or canning them ASAP is an inexpensive- and fun to many- way to stock up for the winter. Canning is a somewhat more complicated process and requires a good amount of sugar but no energy is used in keeping them frozen. Organic berries are, of course, better for you because berry skins are very thin and easily absorb pesticides and it is quite labor intensive (or just takes a smart farmer) to grow berries without pesticides.

Heat savings: I'm not sure if space heaters are a great option. They typically eat the juice so are only good for a quick fix, certainly not for long periods of time. My heating bill went up $30 one month because I had taken in a couple of stray rodents (what was I thinking) for a couple of days and kept a space heater on LOW heat for 5 days. If you have a heat oil furnace, that is usually an excellent choice and electric radiators typically found around baseboards are good too. The general rule is, anything that has to heat a coil to work (hairdryers too) is going to totally blow the meter. As for electric blankets, I have heard (source unknown) that they put off small amounts of (questionably) dangerous radiation of some sort... go figure. I've actually never heard of anyone getting cancer from an electric blanket so?? I find the investment in a down or good synthetic duvet is more than sufficient for warmth by trapping body heat effectively- and they don't run the fire risk or consume electricity- and of course work in the absence of e. I get quite hot even alone under my duvet (which I bought in Wales, incidentally). And your first defense should be layering. You can drastically reduce heating costs by turning the heat way down and piling in the clothes (it's always said the first layer is the most important).

Thank you again, I really appreciate these insights! More soon!

Making Gnocchi from scratch

Here's a link to tell you a little about Gnocchi. Here I learned that gnocchi were traditionally eaten in Latin America on the 29th of each month, when people were poorest, because it is a cheap but hearty meal. Perhaps that's why this recipe fits in this blog-- it's a cheap, simple, and good way to use up extra potatoes because gnocchi freeze extremely well (though you should not refrigerate them for more than an afternoon.)

But I associate gnocchi with Italy, with summers in a small town near Venice, with my high school roommates Anna and Lia and her extended family, by the river. We were surrounded by the huge garden sculptures created by her uncle and had the time to spend the day on making gnocchi. Those times contain so many good memories. Over the years, I've tried to make gnocchi with various friends in various places, specifically because they are time consuming they are also an opportunity to talk and enjoy friends' company.

At their best they're light and beautiful, and boil very quickly. You may also try stir-frying them with some tomato sauce (which is probably not traditional so you shouldn't publicize it too much) Although most commonly created out of potato, flour and an optional egg, you can also use ricotta cheese or even spinach. The ideal sauce would be a pesto or simple tomato-basil sauce. Keep it simple and wholesome.

Here are some pictures of the process, most recently performed last week with the unsuspecting Christine, my favourite American roommate of all time (my only American roommate-- we were roommates our first year at Wellesley, where I was privileged to spend a year with such an awesome woman before she transferred to another W school in Chicago).

Step 1: Prepare the Potatoes

The first thing you need to do is boil your potatoes with a little salt. Here are a lot of potatoes, you don't need nearly as many if you're just making gnocchi for one meal (2 would suffice). Some recipes suggest russet potatoes, or any drier potatoes. I used these potatoes because they were locally grown and in a cheap large bag. You leave the skins on while boiling so that excess water doesn't have the chance to get in. The drier the potato, the lighter the gnocchi.

After boiling and leaving to cool, peel the potatoes.

Step 2: Prepare the Dough

Next, crush or mash the potatoes. You want the mixture to be as smooth as possible but you don't want to add anything to help the process. You can add an egg per 3-5 potatoes though it's not essential. The egg helps to meld the dough together, so if you're making gnocchi for the first time, it may be a good idea.

Then, add flour. Above is a picture of dough made with white flour, below dough is made with wheat flour. The good thing about wheat flour is that it has some good proteins. You add flour gradually until you have about a one potato-to-one cup flour ratio, until the dough feels a bit like bread dough, although heavier. See below to get a sense. Try to squash as many of the bits of potato as possible, to make a consistent smooth dough. Knead the dough as you would bread dough, taking flour from the outside and folding the dough into the center. Once you're satisfied, onto the next step!

Take pieces of dough and role out into little worms.

Cut into 1.5cm segments as shown in the picture above.

Step 3: Make the Gnocchi

Making the gnocchi is the fun part. Place your thumb in the center of the gnocchi and flip off the fork, so that the gnocchi curves inwards and there is an indentation on one side and fork marks on the other. Don't worry too much about making this perfect. Look at pictures online to get a sense of what to aim for, but ultimately this is about increasing the surface area for boiling, not creating the perfect shape.

As you can see, these whole wheat gnocchi are far from perfect!

Step 4: Boil or Store

Finally, to boil a portion of gnocchi place in salted vigorously boiling water. They cook very quickly. You know they're done when they float-- even if this is after a very short amount of time. Make sure they're not stuck on the bottom, ok? Serve with butter, basil pesto, meat sauce, or tomato-basil sauce. I love gnocchi with creamy pesto.

If you made more than you and your family and friends can eat then and there, place in portion-size bags and freeze immediately.


Friday, January 11, 2008

It's like having all of Amazon for free! Using the Public Library System

The past few months I have been reading a few books every week, after the discovery of the public libraries in our area. The libraries in our area are linked, and so you can request almost any book and at least one book in the system will have it. I can try books I may not like, and thus find a lot of books I really do like, because my horizons are expanding.

South Africa has relatively poor access to a lot of books, and in my experience the collection may not change very much over time, so this experience in Boston is amazing. In addition to books, libraries in the area also have dvds, and books on cds. They also have free internet access. You can learn almost anything for free, even if you're not from the area in which the library is located. You can get free museum passes from your local library.


I finally watched Tsotsi, thanks to the library. I'd been avoiding it, afraid I wouldn't like it. But what an amazing movie. Although it did not delve in race and some of the underlying reasons for violence, I felt like the picture of violence it provided was powerful. Violence and devaluation of life sit together.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Making Berry Crisp from Frozen berries

Frozen berries and vegetables are one way to get the vegetables and fruits you need. I'm not sure of their impact on the environment, and so am going to read more about that and report back.

What I do know is that they generally freeze the vegetables and fruits extremely quickly, and at the time when they are most nutritious. Let me know if you have insights.

Here's one way to enjoy berries in winter:

Ingredients (around 300 calories/serving, which is 1/12 of the total round pan)
3 cups mixed frozen berries
2-3 tablespoons of white sugar
4/3 cups flour
4/3 cups oats
1 cup brown sugar
cinnamon and nutmeg, about 1 tsp
1 cup butter

Note: You can also reduce the sugar and butter by using honey.

Place the frozen berries aside to thaw..

Combine the dry ingredients, then gradually cut in small bits of butter until the butter and dry ingredients make a crumbly mixture.

Place 1/2 the crumbly mixture in the bottom of the circular pan. Put the berries on top, and then put a second layer of crumbs on top. (see below.)

Bake in pre-heated oven at 350 F for 40 minutes, or until the berry mixture is bubbling up.

Enjoy warm!

Monday, January 7, 2008

Snapshots of Politics in real Life

I have been following four country's elections the past weeks: the ANC, the caucus in Iowa, the Kenyan elections, and the Pakistani elections. It would be great to hear your perspectives because mine is limited. I'm really interested in how all these elections-- past, present, future-- impact individuals and communities around the world in the most basic and fundamental ways. Politics really matters.

South Africa: from loyalty to the movement to a new kind of politics. I believe that Zuma's election sends the signal that people will not simply follow along if they feel they are being ignored (as seemed to be the case with Mbeki).

Kenya: Ethnicity is being co-opted by politicians as a means of maintaining and extending power. I have been thinking a lot about the statement by Said "The role of the intellectual: speaking truth to power". How do intellectuals speak truth to power when politicians are speaking lies to power? Kenyan politicians are appealing to ethnicity as an inevitable voting category. As during colonialism, when "divide and rule" was a powerful force in maintaining power across the continent, today we finding ourselves suck in the same patterns of rule. All the while, Kenyans are dying in riots.

Pakistan: Bhutto's message was significantly undermined by the fact that she wished her son and husband to succeed her as the party chair. It doesn't make any sense to me. Musharraf says that Bhutto is to blame for her own death for taking unnecessary risks?!

Selecting the U.S. Democratic Presidential candidate: Although I'm interested in the race overall, the democratic race seems likely to produce the next U.S. President. I'm a Wellesley graduate and so am drawn to the Wellesley Alum, Hillary Clinton. Although I would not be upset if she were to win, I look at the global experience of the Bush administration, and believe that the world may need someone who is inspiring and personable to heal. With the races in Iowa and New Hampshire swaying in Obama's favour, I'd love to hear from those who know.


It's striking how much politics is playing out in our daily lives. Personally, I don't want to be paralyzed or overwhelmed by news but I do want to understand enough to be engaged and also to pray. Being engaged really means seeing how much what is happening in Kenya matters to me. And it does.

I work on a project that serves Somalis, and one of the leaders of the projects said something very wise that I think speaks to the ways that politics matter. She said that Somali parents in Boston didn't want to talk with their children about their experiences fleeing war in Somalia, because they had done this amazing thing for their children by bringing them all the way to America-- thus making sure that they were safer, and their physical needs were provided for. They believed they took away from their children all these experiences of war and extreme suffering, and gave them education, a new future, a new home. It seemed like ingratitude for these same children to then be involved in drugs, drop out of school, or disobey their parents.

What they were not aware of was that many of their experiences of war doggedly followed their children, because these experiences were inside the parents.


Check back soon or consider subscribing by RSS feed.

Thursday, January 3, 2008

The Invisible Ingredient

The Invisible Ingredient describes the need to consider wasted heat while cooking. I thought it was a fascinating article, because my stove is so inefficient that I use the latent heat (as I mention below) as heat for the apartment!

P.S. Let me know if you cannot get to the article, and I can e-mail it to you.

Six Tips for Heating a Small Home this winter

Right now in Boston it is -14 C (feels like -32C) [7F (feels like -9F)], so I thought it's an appropriate time to give some tips for heating a small home.

Our home is on the third floor of a three family home, which means the ceilings slope down and we lose a lot of heat out of the roof. We have an old gas heating system, which last year was very inefficient. Those in South Africa will shudder at the fact that we spent a lot more on heating than on food. Apart from the expense, we are using a lot of energy every winter. Without further ado, some ways that we've managed to cut our heating, and heating expenses by 160% so far this winter:

(1) Saran wrap your windows. I also suggest using wrap on all sections of glass on your doors.

(2) Our apartment has a back door leading out onto the fire excape, as well as a non-removable air-conditioning unit, all on one wall. As you can see above, we've made an piece of fabric into an oversized curtain. It also covers the door to a storage cupboard that is particularly cold. As a result, less heat can escape. We've also saran wrapped the air-conditioning unit.

(3) Gas is expensive This winter, gas prices are very high. Where possible, switch to electric space heaters.

(4) Heat people, not space. We have the heating off during the day if we're out. When we come back in, if we're just going to be in for the evening, we heat the bedroom only with a space heater.

(5) Make use of oven heat. If you're going to be home, do some cooking early in the day and use the heat well-- cook several things at once and keep heating low for a few hours after.

(6) Invest in an electric blanket for your bed.


Come back soon for more on recipes, health and saving energy this winter.

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Stuffed Mushrooms

1 pack (about a pound, or 12-17) mushrooms
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
Some garlic (you should peel and crush)
1 onion finely chopped

1/2-2/3 of an 8-ounce package of cream cheese, softened (or a lower fat substitute)
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper

1/2 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper


You start off by twisting off the stems of the rinsed mushrooms. Place the remaining mushroom shells on a baking sheet.

Chop up the stems into really tiny pieces. Chop up the onion into really tiny pieces as well, and crush a few cloves of garlic (to taste). Saute the onion first until it's pretty clear, then add the mushrooms and garlic. You want the mixture to be fairly dry when you are finished cooking it.

Wait for the cooked mixture to cool down. Once it's close to room temperature, add about half a pack of cream cheese and 1/4 cup of grated parmesan, as well as 1/2 tsp ground black pepper and 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper. Mix well and add to mushrooms, as below.

You can keep these in the fridge for up to 2 days before baking them, as above. Bake them at about 350-375 F, 180 C, for 30 minutes (or a little more, depending on your oven.) They should be a beautiful golden brown colour, with a little liquid starting to form on the bottom of the mushrooms.

Come back soon to hear more about SA and US politics, health and health care.
Perspectives on elections across the world: Pakistan, Kenya, SA and USA.
How to make yourself eat more vegetables.
How to make fruit crumble.