Musing on food and cooking ...

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

How Long Before There Are Bread Lines?

The AP reported this afternoon that Sam's Club has started limiting the amount of rice that customers can purchase at any one time:

Sam's Club, the membership warehouse division of Wal-Mart Stores Inc., is limiting how much rice customers can buy because of what it calls "recent supply and demand trends." Sam's Club says it will limit customers to four bags at a time of Jasmine, Basmati and long grain white rice. Rice prices have been hitting record highs recently on worries about tight supplies.

This is incredibly bad news. For many poor folks, rice is often the food of last resort. It is generally cheap and plentiful. Rice can often be purchased when you can't afford to purchase anything else. White rice, while not super nutritious, will at least fill the belly.

Combine this news with other bad food news, and the situation starts to look Great Depression bad. For the last couple of years, the costs of lentils and dulses has skyrocketed, due to short supplies from India. For a time, in fact, India had stopped all export of lentils due to lack of supply.

We all know the price of wheat has gone up incredibly recently. For bakers, 50 pound bags of flour have gone up to (last check) $58 - more than 3 times what it was at the start of the year. According to King Arthur Flour Company, prices are likely to come down - eventually - but they will never be low again. Last week, a loaf of whole grain bread was giong for $3.29.

Some bulk food places are not even selling flour anymore. There are shortages on other grains as well. One place I regularly look at has no access to barley or quinoa at the moment.

Beans are still relatively cheap, but for how long? Potatoes are also being touted as the new poor economy food. Have none of these people ever heard of the Great Potato Famine?

A large portion of this problem is related to the cost of oil and therefore the cost of gas and diesel. The problem is compounded by the fact that a huge portion of the world's corn supply is being funneled into ethanol production - not only is there less corn meal to eat but a huge percentage of crop land is being diverted to grow corn specifically for ethanol.

As prices continue to spiral out of control, more and more people are going to have a hard time making ends met, buying food, or, heck, even getting to work.

On a personal level, I am trying several things. First, if I can ever get the damn sod up or find someone to help, I will be putting in a large garden. I will be stocking up on beans before their prices go bonkers. I think another 25 pound bag of rice from the Asian market would be a good investment right now. I am hoping to sell my car - either outright or at least trade it in for a smaller car that gets better mileage. As gas goes up, I will stop driving at all - I am just at the tipping point where it would be cheaper to park the car in the garage and get a Metra pass than it is to buy gas ($95 a month for a pass Waukegan to Lake Forest vs $64 a tank of gas (16 gallons at $4 a gallon)). I fill up about every 2-3 weeks, right now.

Hell, it would be cheaper to keep a horse. And I could eat it if things got really bad...

Friday, April 18, 2008

See, beyotch, better listen to me next time. I'm a supersoft early warning system!


So, my cats have been acting strangely the last couple of days. Pele in particular has been driving me absolutely bonkers. Refusing to leave my side. Crawling down my nightgown. Jumping, and yes I do mean actually jumping, on my head in the middle of the night. Racing through the house like a mad fiend. She even attacked Leo last night, with her tail all puffed like she was pissed and meant business.

All this is totally unlike her. She can be playful and obnoxious but nothing as bad as this. And she will wrestle with Leo but she never initiates it. She is very protective. This behavior was completely out of character. This was naughtyness to the nth level.

This morning in the wee hours, I woke to both of the beasties in bed with me, crying as if the world were ending, trying to burrow into my skin. And then the house started to rattle, just a little bit, kind of like it does if the furnace is really cranking and sets the pipes to shaking. Which was strange as I have the furnace turned very low this time of year and I knew it wasn't on.

So I listened. Maybe the trash truck had flipped over outside my house. Maybe the neighbor's son had his bass turned extra special loud just for my morning listening pleasure. And then it stopped. I smelled no smoke and heard no sirens and the cats had mostly settled down so I turned over and went back to sleep. When I left for work this morning, Leo was curled in a ball on his favorite spot on the raditor - the one where he can be warm and watch birds. Pele was zonked out in the front window with her head in her favorite plant.

In the way to work this morning, I found out the reason for the strange behavior and the rattling during the wee hours. We had an earthquake! 5.4 - decent sized if not California-grand.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Because for some reason, I keep thinking today is October 23rd

Friday, April 11, 2008


I had a good talk with the vet this afternoon and she had several suggestions, based on cost and likely outcome. I am not ready to digest everything right now and so she sent me a list and volunteered to give me kitty sedatives so I can actually get Leo there without him having a heart attack or killing a small child. So I am going to make an appointment, and we are going to work together on deciding if it makes sense to try and prolong his life, how hard it would be on him and my pocketbook, and how much life the old boy still has in him. She said he does sound like the worst case like this she has ever heard of, and was even more concerned that he is becoming allergic to special foods as quickly as he has been. Anyway, much to think about.

Since I am in need of a laugh, please enjoy the following... watch all the way to the end, when my favorite - cock-flavoured soup - makes an appearance.

What Should I Do?

How do you know when it is time to euthanize an animal, a cat friend you have raised since he was a wee thing?

Leo is really struggling again. Nothing I feed him seems to help. He acts like he is starving to death. This last week he has been struck with explosive diarrhea. I come home to 4-5 accidents a day. I need to get a SpotBot to clean the carpet. I woke this morning at 4 am to the sound of shit being sprayed not a foot from my head. I have lost 3 pairs of shoes.

I can't find a vet to do a house call. He is vet phobic from all the visits we have had in the last four years. None of the food seems to help. Antibiotics help for a short while. But I am told that chronic diarrhea in some cats is nearly impossible to diagnose and treat. I just sent an email to the vet closest to my houses in hopes she might have some suggestions, but I don't have much hope. Just a whisper.

I am crying as I type this because I can't even believe that I am thinking about putting him to sleep. I ask myself if it is really because he is in pain and in decline or am I just feeling selfish and inconvenienced. I just don't know what to do.

Leo is almost 13. He has been fragile all his life. He probably should never have lived at all. His mother stopped feeding him when he was very young. Do I just say, he has had a good life, better than anything he could have had if we hadn't come together, but now it is time for him to pass? Am I being a selfish, horrid person? And if I have him euthanized because it is the right thing to do, how do I get through this?

Thursday, April 10, 2008

National Poetry Month

Brave Sir Robin has done several posts in honor of National Poetry Month. Go over to his place and check it out. Today's challenge is to leave a comment in haiku!

Dear readers may not realize that yours truly was actually quite a good poet at one point in her youth. And this is not even my own thinking. Yours truly was published and everything. But I stopped writing after college, because I found it emotional destructive. And I undertook an expository writing career, and really, it is too damn hard to write all day and then write when I get home. Nowadays, when I think I should get started on writing again, I lean more towards short stories and novels. And, someday, someday, I might actually do one!

In honor of National Poetry Month and my own history, please enjoy this poem. It plays off of my interests in using mythology for women's empowerment, reclaiming, if you well, and feminist mythmaking. In college, I wrote a lot of poems focusing on mythology and even self-published a little chap book called Divinity (2 whole copies!). I also did a series on depression in spring time, some of which are quite good. If I find them, I will try to share them. This particular poem here, I originally wrote in English and then translated it into Latin. I think the Latin version is better. It is more lyrical and there are some Latin words that have their own special power, words we don't have in English. For example, "flores meis in crinis sicut in noctis umbris taedae flamantur." The literal translation in English is "The flowers in my hair like torches flamed in the dark shadows ." Very Yoda-esque. But, for those who know any Latin, a taeda (taedae, pl) is the torch used during the wedding processional.


There had never been shadow
until the ground split
and a man and his chariot
rushed onto the field like something
spilling from the bowels of the earth.
Flesh burned from my bones
as he took me into
the underworld and the flowers
in my hair flamed like torches
in the gloom. I thought
everything lost, no more
dances or maidenhood. I thought
I would die in the arms of the king.
But a hunger ached my belly;
each pomegranate seed
I ate filled me, and I
knew this was
the first moment I had
lived. My life opened
to the dark like a moonflower.
I became a queen.


Numquam fuerat umbra
dum terra se scidit
et vir currusque
sicut aliquid ex terrae
visceris efundens
ad campum cucurrerunt.
Ossis ex meis caro crematur
dum me ad inferiora duxit
et flores meis in crinis
sicut in noctis umbris
taedae flamantur.
Omnia periri putavi,
non diu chorae virginitasque.
Moriri me regis
in bracchiis putavi.
Sed meo in alvo
erant dolor et fames.
Cum quoque semine puniceo
quem edi eram plena.
Me primum vivi
hoc in momento scivi.
Ad tenebras nigras
aperta est vita mea
sicut lunae flos.
Regina fio.

Thursday, April 03, 2008


So the person who was going to start my seeds has had a minor meltdown and now wants me to buy my own seed starting kit, start the seeds, and then bring them over once they are a certain size to bask under the grow lights.

Which seems totally stupid to me. Especially as I was going to share my seeds with him, if Burpee ever sends them to me.

And now I have two choices: send back all the seeds I bought and order plants or buy my own seed starting kit and try to figure out where to put it that the cats won't destroy it and start seeds. Forget the whole bringing them over to under the grow lights. That is an extra step I won't pursue.

And why do I get this feeling that this is the universe sending me some sort of a damn message about trust and responsibility?

Teh Funny, Teh Horror!

So, I was driving a friend to the train station Tuesday night and on our way, there was a lot of activity around a house near campus and a cop car across the road, and I had to take a detour to get to my destination.

Says I: Must be some major construction project going on over there? Street work, maybe?
Says He: Oh no! They're shooting a movie ... Unborn, something like that.

Now, totally exciting! So when I got home, I looked it up on IMDB and here is the follow up exchange:

Me: Dude, we gotta stalk this movie. Gary Oldman is in it!
Him: Is it a remake?
Me: there's very little info on IMDB.... just that the hero is a young woman being haunted by spirits and a small cast listing....but there are a million movies or so it seems titled the Unborn
Him: Girlfriend, you can have Gary. I'll take Cam Gigandet...
Me: yeah! everyone's happy!
Him: You know, there are quite a few horror movies filmed in Lake Forest.
Me: Maybe that is because Lake Forest is a horror movie and the directors know that they will save a gazillion dollars on special effects by shooting here.......
Him: That's exactly what I was thinking.

So, anyway, I may do some gentle stalking of Gary Oldman, but not too much as the LFPD is brutal, man, and have so little to do with their time I would no doubt be tazed to a briquette. It would be a good follow-up to my stalking of Patrick Stewart at a play he did here in Chicago back in the 90s (said stalking involving a bunch of us standing around wondering if we should try to stalk Patriack Stewart) and my more recent stalking of Sean Penn during the filming of Mystic River.

Mystic River was filmed in East Boston at the same time I was working at a small agency there and we got to see a lot of the action. One day, I decided to try and get a picture. Why not? So I went over and snapped a picture in which all you could see was a bunch of observers' heads and then a bodyguard came over.

Bodyguard: Miss? Mr. Penn would appreciate it if you would refrain from taking photos.
Me: Yes, sir!

Because, really, who wants to piss off Sean Penn?