Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Leaving for Prague

The next time I post an entry in this blog, I'll be in Prague in the Czech Republic. The contrast between my Tucson, Arizona home and the temporary home I'll have in Prague is worth talking about. In Tucson I share a house near some beautiful desert land on the edge of the city. I use the bus and walk as often as possible, but it's difficult to live without a car here. In Prague I'll be living in an apartment in the city center and taking public transit every day. I'll also be dealing with colder weather, cloudier skies, a language barrier (my Czech is rudimentary at best), and a narrower range of vegetarian options. I look forward to commenting on what life is like there, but I do want to upload a few pictures of early spring in the desert before I go overseas.

This globemallow is growing in our back yard:


And here's a desert marigold that's growing in the front yard:

The birds are starting to build nests, and the doves are beginning to call again after being relatively silent in the winter. Here's a mourning dove resting on a dead tree branch:

And, pardon my rudeness, but this tiny and active verdin wouldn't allow himself to be photographed from a more elegant angle:


And though house finches are very common, they add a little color and cheer to the desert:

Friday, February 20, 2009

A Recipe for Chickpea Stew


Chickpea Stew

1 cup medium-coarse bulgur wheat
2 and a half cups water
2 onions, diced
1 pepper, seeded and chopped
2 medium-sized sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/2 inch cubes
1 medium-sized zucchini or other summer squash, diced
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
4 cups cooked chickpeas
Salt to taste
Hot pepper sauce

1. Bring the water to a boil, add the bulgur wheat, cover and simmer until done (about twenty minutes).
2. While the wheat is cooking, heat an inch of water in a soup pot, and when it boils, add the onion, pepper, and sweet potatoes. Poach the vegetables in water until they are somewhat tender, adding more water as needed. Then add the squash and continue cooking until all the vegetables are tender. (NOTE: I never saute vegetables in olive oil but instead cook them in water before adding the oil. That's because olive oil retains more of its healthful properties if it's not heated above the boiling point of water. It's important, however, not to end up with a soupy mess, so don't add more water than you need to cook the veggies.)
3. Add the olive oil, spices and chickpeas. Cover and cook gently for about five minutes. Serve the chickpea mixture over cooked wheat. Hot pepper sauce makes a nice accompaniment.

Makes four generous servings.

Abbie in the Sun

Readers of this blog might wonder at my seeming obsession with beans and birds. I'm going on a trip soon, to the Czech Republic, and one of the things I plan to do is record some observations about my life there. But first I wanted to establish a baseline of sorts and describe the life I lead in Tucson. Of course, I may have gotten a little carried away with the recipes and the bird photos, so I wanted to say that I share my life here with my partner Greg and a wonderful dog named Abbie. Abbie will be well cared for while Greg and I are in Prague (by my in-laws), but I'll miss her very, very much.

Fashion Sense Denounces New York Post Chimpanzee Cartoon

Here at Fashion Sense, we love social justice, animals, and cartoons, so you can imagine how much we hated that New York Post cartoon about the dead chimpanzee -- and its implications. We also have a suggestion for anyone who wants to own a chimpanzee: become a Chimp Guardian at the Jane Goodall Institute instead. [Click on the image for a larger version of this cartoon. The text reads: 'Yesterday I had a bad flu, so I stayed home from work, and when I turned on CNN Al Sharpton was talking about a cartoon in the New York Post, and then they showed the cartoon which featured a dead chimpanzee, two police officers with guns, and the caption was about the need to find someone else to write the next stimulus bill; and right then Monique called from work, and she wanted to know where I put the post-it notes, and I told her for the twentieth time, and she said, "I know you're sick, but have you heard about that NY Post monkey cartoon?" and I said that I had, and she said “And of course Al Sharpton is already going on about it,” and I said I’d just seen him on CNN, and she said, "Well, I know you love monkeys, so I figured you'd be appalled by this thing," and I said, "I am," and she said, "Al Sharpton is so overly-sensitive about supposed racial slurs, and so insensitive about the death of a beloved pet," and I said, "The cartoon is insensitive about racist slurs, and I'm appalled that the Post would print such a thing," and she said, "But I thought you would be sympathetic to that poor chimpanzee owner," and I said, "I took my monkey to a primate shelter months ago because he wasn't happy with me, and that's what the chimpanzee owner should have done. Monkeys and apes are wild animals, not pets," and she said, "I believe in freedom of speech and freedom of ownership,” and I said, "I believe in freedom from defamation for African-Americans and in freedom from captivity for wild animals," and she said, "What's a person who loves chimps supposed to do?" and I said, "Adopt one through a wildlife conservation group," and she said, "Now you're just being a hypocrite. I remember how you criticized poor Siegfried and Roy when they adopted all those new tiger cubs," and then I started sneezing uncontrollably and she hung up before I could explain.']

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Recipe for Chickpeas with Bulgur Wheat

Today I cooked half a kilo of chickpeas and we had them for dinner, with enough extra to make another nice meal later in the week. (Canned beans would work just as well, of course.)

Chickpeas with Bulgur Wheat

1 cup medium-coarse bulgur wheat
2 and a half cups water
1 large onion, diced
2 large carrots, peeled and coarsely grated (about one cup)
2 large garlic cloves, peeled and minced
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
3 cups cooked chickpeas
Salt to taste

1. Bring the water to a boil, add the bulgur wheat, cover and simmer until done (about twenty minutes).
2. While the wheat is cooking, heat an inch of water in a soup pot, and when it boils, add the onion and carrots. Poach the vegetables in water until they are are fork tender, adding more water as needed. (NOTE: I never saute vegetables in olive oil but instead cook them in water before adding the oil. That's because olive oil retains more of its healthful properties if it's not heated above the boiling point of water. It's important, however, not to end up with a soupy mess, so don't add more water than you need to cook the veggies.)
3. Add garlic and olive oil and a bit more water, if needed. Cover and cook gently for five minutes. Stir in chickpeas and heat through. Serve the chickpea mixture over cooked wheat.

Makes four generous servings.

Rock Squirrel

Another cool but sunny day. It's against the law to feed wildlife here in Tucson (with the exception of birds), so I don't feed the squirrels. The yard is fenced, and I throw seed over the fence twice a day for quail that don't like to come into the yard. This rock squirrel sometimes manages to get his share. I took this picture as he stood on his hind legs among some prickly pear cactus, looking alert and beautiful.

Monday, February 9, 2009

A Recipe for Pasta Fagioli


Today I used the rest of the cooked white beans from Thursday to make pasta with beans:

Pasta Fagioli

1 medium onion, finely chopped
1 green or red bell pepper, finely chopped
1 carrot, finely chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
28 oz. can crushed tomatoes with basil
4 cups cooked white beans
12 oz. whole wheat pasta (I use penne), cooked al dente
1/2 teaspoon oregano
1/2 teaspoon crushed pepper seed
salt to taste

1. Bring about an inch of water to a boil in a large soup pot and add the chopped onion, pepper and carrot. Poach the vegetables in water until they're nearly tender, adding water as needed. (NOTE: I never saute vegetables in olive oil but instead cook them in water before adding the oil. That's because olive oil retains more of its healthful properties if it's not heated above the boiling point of water. It's important, however, not to end up with a soupy mess, so don't add more water than you need to cook the veggies.)
2. Add garlic and olive oil and a little more water. Cover and cook gently for five minutes.
3. Add all the other ingredients except the cooked pasta and simmer for ten or fifteen minutes, stirring occasionally.
4. Add the pasta. Stir gently. Adjust seasonings.

Serves four to six

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Arizona Cardinal


It rained last night and temperatures this morning were in the 50s. Our desert birds consider this cold, and when I threw out seeds this morning, lots of birds came to eat. There were a pair of cardinals, but the male was bolder and the only one I could photograph well. I include two pictures of his beautiful red self.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

A Breezy Day and a Sleepy Dove

Because today is a warm, breezy day, I washed clothes, then hung them out to dry. I live in Tucson, Arizona, where we have around 300 sunny days each year, so using a clothes dryer is a real waste of electricity. Besides, I love the smell of line-dried clothes.

I noticed this little Inca dove perched on the stump of a dead tree limb, and I took a number of pictures. The dove was resting in the sun and didn't seem to mind me and my camera. We have other types of doves here: ground doves, mourning doves, and in the summer white-winged doves.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Garlic Lover's Beans and Greens


Today I cooked a little over a pound of white beans, so that I could make Beans and Greens. I'll use the rest of the beans later in the week when I make Pasta Fagioli.

Garlic Lover's Beans and Greens

2 large yellow onions, chopped
2 tablespoons of minced garlic
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
3 cups cooked white beans
1 and a half cups vegetable broth
1 bunch Swiss chard, washed, stems removed, leaves cut into pieces
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
Salt to taste

1. Bring an inch of water to a boil in a large soup pot. Add the chopped onions and poach them in the water until tender, adding more water if necessary. (NOTE: I never saute vegetables in olive oil but instead cook them in water before adding the oil. That's because olive oil retains more of its healthful properties if it's not heated above the boiling point of water. It's important, however, not to end up with a soupy mess, so don't add more water than you need to cook the veggies.)
2. Add the garlic and olive oil (and a little more water if needed); cover and cook gently for five minutes.
3. Add the rest of the ingredients, cover, and simmer until the greens are tender.
Makes four servings.

I suppose some people might not want to use so much garlic (though I can't imagine why), but this somewhat soupy version of beans and greens smells wonderful. Hearty, healthy, and vegan.

Fashion Sense Says PETA's Super Bowl Commercial Would Have Been the Best


There's always a lot of buzz about the commercials shown during the Super Bowl, but the sexy PETA veggie love commercial probably would have gotten a lot of attention -- if NBC would have been willing to air it. [Click on the image for a larger version of this cartoon. The text reads: 'Last week my cute neighbor invited me to his Super Bowl party, but when he told me he was going to have hot wings and other meat-based snacks, I said, "Thanks but no thanks. I don't want to watch football with a bunch of carnivores," and he got mad and walked away without another word, so when I ran into him the day after the game I said, "Did you hear PETA tried to get NBC to run a commercial about vegetarianism during the Super Bowl, but it was too sexy," and he said, "Sexy how?" and I said, "It showed some women wearing lingerie who were licking pumpkins and rubbing themselves with asparagus," and he said, "That's ridiculous," and I said, "The ad claimed vegetarians have better sex," and he said, "That's absurd," and then my rabbit reminded him that rabbits, who are vegetarians, are famous for their frequent and energetic sex, and my neighbor said, "That rabbit should be in a Super Bowl commercial next year -- this year all they had was 3D lizards and Clydesdale horses," and then he asked me if I wanted to go out with him, and I said, "I never go out with carnivores," and he said, "But I can't give up meat. I love to play football and have to keep in shape," and I said, "I heard that Tony Gonzalez is trying to be a vegan," and he said, "Tony Gonzalez? From the Kansas City Chiefs?" and I said, "The very same," and he said, "I love the Chiefs," and I said, "I know," and he said he'd think it over, and I said, "If you go veg, I'll make vegan snacks for your Super Bowl party next year," and he said, "And I'll make sure you get some very nice asparagus," which the rabbit and I later agreed was a tempting offer any way you interpret it.']

Why Take Pictures When Everyone is a Photographer?

Mexican Bird-of-Paradise In 2005, for my final project in a Dreamweaver class, I used some of my own photographs in a redesigned website...