Sunday, February 24, 2013

Amaranth oatmeal chocolate chip cookies

I have this new habit of getting an ingredient I've never used before every time I visit Komati foods, a few blocks from my house. As a pretty unadventurous cook/eater, it's helped me discover new foods.

So recently I got some amaranth, a tiny grain with lots of good nutrients. We're just starting to try out different recipes using the grain, and I decided to make some cookies. The thing is, amaranth is big in the gluten-free community, so most of the cookie recipes had ingredients that we don't have right now. They also called for amaranth flour, and Eli was asleep in the carrier so I decided, rather than grind the amaranth into flour, to just use the whole grain. I'm interested in exploring a lot of different grains, and seeing what makes us feel healthy, since we are not gluten free at this point. So here's a recipe I made up- please tweak as you need to!

about 8tbsp Fat- I used 6tbsp butter and 2tbsp coconut oil
Creamed with 1/2 cup brown sugar

Add 1 egg and a little vanilla to mix.

1/2 cup amaranth
1/2 cup oats
1.5 cup brown flour (note- in SA brown flour not really whole wheat, so this is more like 1/2 ww 1/2 white flour for non SA readers)

Add a cup of chocolate and nuts. We used chopped dark chocolate and pine nuts picked up at Oude Moulen that Noah proudly cracked himself.

Mix up into a ball, freeze for 30 minutes or so, then spoon onto a cookie sheet. (start preheating oven to 375F/180C at some point)

Bake for about 10 minutes!

We baked about half of them and froze the rest to bake later in the week. The amaranth is nice and crunchy!

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Pee for Lemon Trees

About ten years ago I was at College of the Atlantic (a hippy school in Maine) visiting Elisheva, and I balked at a sign asking residents not to flush the toilets unless they really had to. My mind couldn't wrap around the water waste associated with flushing toilets, it was just on my list of hygienic necessities.

Then this week, after reading some of the Humanure handbook and some other texts, I found myself totally convinced of the waste associated with flushing so much potable water. I wondered what was practical in our context in an urban setting- we can't create giant composting toilets or dedicate a large worm bin just to human waste.

So, as a start I snuck one of Noah's potties in the toilet and started collecting pee for our 4 lemon trees. The toilet paper went to the worm bin. And while a very token gesture, it crossed a line, a very fun line.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Global apartheid

We're about to apply for Eug's permanent residence and the bureaucracy is overwhelming.

It made me think of all the paperwork we've had to file over the years of our marriage, the money spent, and the number of times we have felt like interlopers. I think we're not unique at all, and the paperwork that others go through is even more overwhelming, the costs even more prohibitive, and the psychological consequences even more dire (in the global apartheid created by strict borders, we are still definitely among the powerful). Asylum seekers in Cape Town must have their right to remain stamped each and every month- each time this can take a full day or more. Is it right that governments and borders hold this kind of power over us? Many refugees don't have any paperwork whatsoever when they start out. For each application, imagine hours and hours of paperwork and signatures.

In the US, for me:

  • F1 application to come to study and marry Eug. (my 4th F1 visa, for the record)
  • Work permission after marriage.
  • Green Card Application (conditional)
  • Permission to travel while Green Card Application Pending
  • Green Card Application (permanent, after 2 years of marriage)
  • Certificate of Naturalization
  • U.S. Passport.

In the U.S., to the SA embassy 

  • Temporary residence application (Noah and Eug)
  • Application to retain SA citizenship before receiving U.S. citizenship

Let's do a tally:

  • Total number of X-rays to determine that I was free of TB: 3
  • Number of Medicals that focused on whether Eug or I had psychosis, addictions, or a history of sexual deviance: 3
  • Number of Interviews where I was asked whether I was a terrorist or a prostitute: 3
  • Number of forms where I signed that I have never been a terrorist or a prostitute: I lost count
  • Number of times I was refused boarding because of visa/vaccination changes: 2

In South Africa (each with multiple trips to home affairs with two tiny children at 7am):

  • Applied for Eli's abridged birth certificate
  • Applied for Eli's unabridged birth certificate (still not through, 10 months later)
  • Applied for Noah's abridged birth certificate of a foreign birth (which will allow him to become a SA citizen and therefore stay in SA).
  • Applied for Eli's South African Passport.
  • Apply for Eug's Permanent resident and a extension of his temporary residence (and possibly Noah's) 

To be done, at the U.S. embassy: Eli's U.S. birth certificate and U.S. Passport

Are roads and other tax funded resources so precious?

Friday, February 15, 2013

Just regular people doing stuff

There's a famous quote by John Holt in which he describes many parent's treatment of children as "expensive nuisances, slaves, or superpets". I've been thinking about this quote a lot as Noah is increasingly bothered by people (particularly strangers) touching him in public. Whereas before I was mainly concerned that he was causing a scene, now I am indignant on his behalf, as I would be if a stranger touched me. I am often embarrassed and try to make Noah or Eli live up to my ideas of what a great toddler or baby should be like, as though they were just extensions of me.

With the risk of treating my children like superpets, I include three videos for those of you far away from us: One that I love because of Noah and Eli's vivacious and infectious laughter as I bravely attempt to introduce Eli to a crib (ha!), one because Noah is trying to write words, and one because Eli is trying to copy him- all without our bidding. 

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Food Adventures

I recently stopped making bread because Brody (the sourdough starter) got attacked by fruit flies (they lost, but so did Brody) and it turns out that my schedule doesn't work for making regular yeasted bread at home, as I tend not to be home for long enough stretches. I am waiting until the weather cools and the fruit flies abate before Brody #3 is born, but in the meantime, we've been trying quite a few new foods with less wheat flour than we usually consume.

Noah is able to help with most of these recipes, and he loves to be part of anything involving dough. So timing our cooking for when Eli is asleep makes meal prep slow and relaxed. These are the recipes that have gone really well- let me know if you try them and what you think!

Chickpea bread- we don't have a source of chickpea flour so I just grind chickpeas in the coffee grinder.

Cauliflower pizza It's good enough to have replaced regular pizza in our household, just based on taste. We also discovered that the greens surrounding the cauliflower can be made into something very much like collard greens- they're hearty simmered on low on the stove with onions and garlic.

Banana and egg two ingredient pancake If you have tiny kids who start bananas they have no intention of finishing, this is the recipe for you. It's really lovely.

Zucchini fritters Pretty much anything on Smitten Kitchen is good, and zucchini's are finally in season here. Except that zucchinis have the rather graphic name "baby marrow" here. South Africans, can we agree to call them zucchini? nobody wants to eat baby legs.

Tortillas certainly have flour, but it's worth it here in Cape Town where Mexican groceries are scarce- home-made tortillas open up a world of options for making beans more fun. They don't take too long to make, either.

Naan and Dal take a while to prepare, but they're worth it; Dal keeps very well in the fridge or freezer so it's been a good backup meal.

Happy Lunar New Year!

Monday, February 4, 2013

Jumping in on the deep end (call us if you want freshly roasted coffee in Obs)

If you have an hour, check out this video, available free (Password STW2013) until February 12th. Though quite heavily edited to make a point, it brings together something the ways that consumerism, sustainability, social justice and mainstream education are all profoundly intertwined.

Today, we bought Eli's weight in coffee. Single-origin, Columbian, fresh from this season, green beans.  We're hope to sell some, give some away, barter with some, and hopefully be supplied ourselves.