Pinterest review: coconut milk baked chicken

Chicken plus coconut milk equals yum, so I pinned this recipe. For the most part, I followed it as directed. But I do have a (semi)pro tip: Skip the can opener. It’s for chumps.

(Also, your husband took it to work to open his canned tuna lunch, and you don’t have a spare. Vow to get one next time you’re at Target.)

The recipe clearly advocates for early marination, so you can’t wait for the can opener to come home with the hubs. Instead, grab a medium sized phillips head screwdriver and a hammer; use them to make two holes in the can of coconut milk. Attempt to pour it into your spice mix and realize it doesn’t want to be poured.

Curse in frustration as you retrieve a large-ish flat head screwdriver. Hammer it along the sides of your can top to slowly (so. slowly.) open it. When the suspense becomes unbearable, jimmy the can open as much as possible with a table knife, being careful not to slice open your hand. Feel smug and superior when your improvised system mostly works. You are an urban cooking legend.

Substitute fresh ginger and garlic for the powdered amounts, and replace the dried basil with a teaspoon-ish of chili powder. Whisk your mixture like a champ, then move on to butchering your chicken.

(You’ve watched Mark Bittman’s instructional video, so you vaguely know what this butchering business is about. Oddly, you realize that butchering a raw chicken is easier than carving a roasted one.)

Pull your chicken out of the fridge, only to realize it’s still partially frozen. Sigh. Then laugh. Then put your chicken back in the fridge, along with your currently useless marinade.

Try again with the chicken on day 2. Roast as directed, then run it under the broiler for five minutes or so (for extra crisping). Save all of your coconut-infused pan leavings, and pour them over your side of rice. Congratulate yourself on being a perfect partner, then stuff your face.

Repeat as needed.

On Gaza

I don’t think of myself as a political blogger, but when things get really REAL in Israel and Palestine I feel the need to weigh in. You see, I’ve lived and worked in that conflict zone.* I’ve seen at least some of what that reality looks like, and I feel a responsibility to comment.

The trouble is, I tend to have a firm rule about political speech online: If you have nothing thoughtful to say, keep your mouth (fingers? keyboard?) shut. I’m not sure I have anything especially useful to add even now, but there are things I need to say. They’ve been percolating for a while, but this piece made me say them. After all, I’m supposed to speak now.

Well, technically last week, but I was still thinking.

First, let me say this: I want everyone (EVERYONE, without condition) to be okay. I want them to have the same freedoms and opportunities I have and an honest chance to be the people they want to be. And my initial gut reaction to the last few weeks’ worth of news from Israel and Palestine is a deep sadness.

Then, I saw that piece on a trusted friend’s Facebook feed, and I couldn’t let it go. Part of it was jealousy, I’m sure, given that it’s a really well-written piece. It’s smart and passionate and specific and witty. It says something different, and it says it well.To those who’ve waited for Israeli airstrikes to begin protesting, despite an escalation in rocket fire Gaza, Eylon Aslan-Levy has this advice:

When you say that violence is not the solution, many in Israel will agree with you, but everyone will want to know where you were yesterday, and why you only just remembered you care about crying children when it’s Palestinian children shedding the tears.

And of course he’s right: If we call ourselves humanitarians, we have to live into the fullness of those values. And the truth is, I don’t want anyone to die. I don’t want anyone to run from rockets and bombs and white phosphorous. Not the people in Beit Lahiya and not the people in Ashkelon. And it’s important to be clear about that. I may support some national aims more than others, but I value human life equally.

On a more practical level, he points out that if your real aim is to decrease violence–and not just assuage your own conscience–it helps to consider your audience. “You won’t be able to convince Israel to hold its fire when it’s clear that you don’t care about its people,” Aslan-Levy says. And he’s right. However I may feel about the power dynamics in the conflict, I’m pretty sure I would mentally kidney punch anyone who lectured me on morality while ignoring my own legitimate fear.

After all, it’s not that I have any qualms about condemning rocket fire. I can’t condone random violence that could just as easily kill workers at Gisha as it could active members of the military. If there’s any justice in acts of war, targeted action is the basis of that justice.

But. (Let’s be honest. You knew there was a but.) I don’t know what I would do if people happily ignored my existence until I’d become a “terrorist threat.” And we all do it. When things are quiet, Gaza disappears. We forget about the Israeli blockade and wide-scale human suffering when there’s no war story. We forget about the raw sewage that’s flooding neighborhoods and seeping into the sea–perhaps the single greatest metaphor for interconnectedness in this conflict, regardless of how we assign blame.

Aslan-Levy also ignores the reasons people like me tend to be so vocal about Palestine and feel little need to defend Israelis: It feels like Israel has plenty of defenders here. I don’t know that it needs more. I’m certain the Palestinians do.

So what I’m saying is this: Let’s all call for a cooling off period. Let’s all call for a ceasefire on all death and destruction. Seriously. Right now. But what happens when everyone cools off and realizes none of the underlying problems have changed? We can’t pretend this conflict will shift without a complete toppling of the status quo. We can’t pretend this won’t happen again.

This piece does a better job dealing with that sense of inevitability (“War Season,” he calls it). Meanwhile, Jewish Voice for Peace has responded to the violence with an Open Letter campaign that you can join here. Or, if that language is a bit pro-Palestinian for your taste, J Street has also issued a statement on the conflict and offered options for engagement.

I’ll also be giving to the American Friends of the Diocese of Jerusalem in support of the Al Ahli hospital in Gaza.** American Friends of UNRWA is another organization worth supporting, especially since refugees make up most of Gaza’s population. Either way, you’ll help meet some pretty desperate emergency needs through trusted organizations.

This conflict is messy and hard and entrenched, but it’s not hopeless. Even when it feels that way.



*Roughly 2.5 years, minus many long trips home and a two-month Jordanian exile. Yes, there’s a story there.

**From the AFEDJ’s e-newsletter:

Gaza Update

Reports from around the world show a mounting death toll in Gaza, and no end in sight. The Egyptian government, often a mediator in Israeli/Hamas confrontations, remains silent and has sealed the tunnels and borders. Humanitarian aid is not getting in and those suffering in Gaza have to rely on their own resources to aid the wounded and feed their children.

While many governments and the Christian Patriarchs in Jerusalem have called for calm, negotiation and respect, the way forward is far from clear. Latest word is that a ground attack is still a possibility.

How much more can the civilian population endure? They face polluted water, extremely limited power supply, shortages of everything from medical supplies to building materials.

And through it all, Al Ahli Hospital and its heroic staff treat those in need with compassion and skill.

AFEDJ can get funds to the Hospital. They can purchase fuel, food, and whatever medical supplies are available. It’s possible to do something to address the need and do it now. Pray, stay current and support those suffering in a desperate situation.

Blessed are the peacemakers.

Anne K. Lynn, President

On romance

On our afternoon constitutional with the dog, I spotted them.

They sat by the manmade “lake” at the park’s center, on a industrial-style bench of caged rocks that juts into the water. They faced each other, skinny jean-ed legs draped in intersecting Vs, and leaned in to exchange light, sweet kisses under a teal umbrella. The scene was equal parts hipster and old Hollywood, and it was wildly touching.

I turned to the hubs and grazed his arm.

Me: I want to kiss you under an umbrella.

Him: … [scowl] murrrr

And so we walked on.

What are the odds I’ll get an umbrella as an anniversary present?

Raisin Bran: A Review

Morning yum.

Morning yum.

It’s possible I’m addicted to Raisin Bran. A certainty, really, since I almost prefer it to brunch.

As an addict, I’ve tried my fair share of options, sorting out the very delicious from the truly terrible and the ones that’ll work in a pinch. But really, any raisin bran is better than no raisin bran.

And the results are:

Kellogg’s: The flakes are thin and pitiful. The raisins have so much sugar, they’re basically raisin candy. (And who wants raisin candy?) It’s too sweet for a hearty health cereal and not fun enough for a sugary cereal. Fail.

Post: This was my favorite in high school, and it’s solid option available almost everywhere. The raisins are yummy, and the flakes have some heft without tasting like cardboard.

365 organic: Whole Foods’ private label has the best flake hands down, hearty but tasty. At just the right level of sweetness, it feels satisfying yet virtuous. Win. The downside, of course, is that buying it requires a trip to Whole Foods. This inevitably means I’ll also pick up some extra brussels sprouts and Scrumpy’s hard cider and have an “ooh, I’ve been meaning to get ingredients for DIY Larabars” moment along with a “must to try on glitter Tom’s” moment, until the place has basically swallowed all my time and money. But cheese samples and raisin bran!

Honorable mention: Kashi Raisin Vineyard. Props for making my breakfast sound sun-dappled and vaguely alcoholic. Unfortunately, the raisins aren’t quite as plump as most other options. It turns out, fancy sun ripening might not be the way to go. But the flakes are an interesting blend of crunchy hippie grains that taste like actual food, instead of the raw harvest. Available at Target and worth a try, at least for dry snacking.

But all of this research is for naught without the right milk accompaniment. Milk can make or break the cereal.

Personally, I go for the one percent option. My stomach can’t handle the fatty deliciousness of 2% or whole milk, and I flat out refuse to buy skim milk. Milk needs fat. As my guru, Ron Swanson, likes to say: “There’s only one thing I hate more than lying: skim milk. Which is water that’s lying about being milk.”

Whether or not it’s any better for you, organic milk may taste creamier, and therefore better. Publix has a delicious organic option, but Whole Foods disappoints. Their plain old 365 milk tastes the same to me as the organic version, so go ahead and cheap out if those are your options.

The best option is from Working Cow Dairy. It’s also the most expensive, but you get to breakfast with the warm fuzzies of supporting local business and grass-fed, happy cows. It’s like you’ve already done your good deed for the day, all while eating breakfast. Throw in a cup of fair trade, shade grown coffee, and you’re basically the Dalai Lama. Go you.

Letterpress luv

The second anniversary is coming up. Falling as it does between a blow-out trip to New Orleans* and wedding planning (wedding budgets. yikes!), we decided to keep it simple. Dinner and cards.

Dinner is happening here, site of (part of) our epic second date. Vaguely romantic ambiance? Check. Frites? Yup. Pardis margaritas? Yes, please.

Done and dusted.

But cards are trickier. There’s something about love-y cards that’s hard to get right. Mushy sentiment is sweet, but not much fun. Yet some of the very alternative options are maybe too…alternative. Based on extensive etsy browsing, here are my dude-friendly anniversary card rules:

  1. No poetry.**
  2. No curly script.***
  3. No fussy graphics.
  4. Pop culture references, hints of snark, or anatomically correct hearts**** preferred.

And the current favorites are:

*The tab at Pat O’Brien’s adds up fast, y’all.

**Exceptions may be made for a truly exceptional haiku.

***This one I love. The dude, probably less so.

****This may be less a dude-friendly card rule and more a reflection of my anatomically-correct Valentine fetish. Sometimes, it’s hard to know.