Friday, March 30, 2007

Four cups to shake the cobwebs

For the past few nights I've been so restless, and I haven't been able to sleep. I'd toss and turn and roll over again and again, but nothing could keep me comfortable enough to make me go to sleep and stay that way. Not even my dashing husband and his loyal mutt!

But last night was different. I skipped cardio at the gym and did Marj's Iyengar yoga class only. We did lots of backbends and a few twists, no inversion, but Savasana, some Pranayama and some chanting. I came home though, to only panic about dinner. I couldn't figure out what to make! It was the end of the week, and pickings were slim. There were a few sprigs of cilantro, some silken tofu, whole wheat tortillas... I got the genius idea to make enchiladas! But, wait... I've never made enchiladas before...

So, I created a whole new animal: The Enchilada Lasagna! Layers of whole wheat tortillas separated a spicy mixture of sauteed onions, red peppers and celery in a tomato and green chile base, with a middle layer of chicken and corn, all laden with a thick, creamy cilantro/tomato/tofu sauce! Baked for 30 minutes and served with long grain and wild rice with black beans... Tasty!

Satisfied, I cleaned up after dinner and retired. My creativity was spent, I had no mental energy left. I crawled into bed and minutes later I was in a peaceful, uninterrupted slumber, only to be stopped by the annoying soliliquy of my alarm clock.

Now, Friday morning with so much junk to do at the office because three key staffers are out today, I'm having to down cup after cup of hot fresh java to get the gears turning in my cranium!

Tonight we're going to Benihana for my brother-in-law Marcus' birthday. Tomorrow, we look for houses, and tomorrow night, Kara is coming to town! YAY!!!

Hope I can blog again soon, with pictures!

Friday, March 23, 2007

Stuff I luv!

I know you're all dying to know what I think about the new Trinity River Project plans for a toll road inside the river's corridor, but until I see a few key pieces of evidence, you'll just have to wait. In the mean time, I'm going to share just a few products that I've grown to absolutely adore!

1) Aveda Blue Oil: This pepperminty oil comes in a roll-on vial that easily and weightlessly smooths on skin in areas that you feel tense or need relaxing. It's cooling and warming, with a divine scent and gentle tingle. A little bit on achy muscles before bed is a recipe for relaxation!

2) Aveeno Skin brightening Daily scrub: Gentle little beads in a creamy oatmeal-infused base exfoliate gently to reduce the size of pores. It's easy on dry, irritated skin and won't clog pores. Admission: I have occasional hormonal acne around my mouth and chin, but using this regularly keeps my face clearer without using harsh chemicals.

3) Aveda Hand Relief: This was a real skin saver this dry Dallas winter. Smooth on just a little of this rich, creamy lotion with an awesome scent and it almost instantly heals hardened little mitts!

4) Bath and Body Works Black Rasberry Vanilla: You've just got to smell it. Oh-so-sweet!

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

I loaf you!

One of my coworkers just complimented my sandwich, and that wasn't a euphemism for a body part, she really was telling me that my lunch looked tasty -- my deli sliced turkey and ham sandwich with sprouts, tomato, red onion, dijon mustard and red cabbage between two slices of fresh, home-made whole wheat bread.

***** ***** ***** ***** *****

There's something alluring in home-made goodies. All the hands-on labor that went into it, nothing automated, just a few beautiful, many-flawed things. No cellophane, no preservatives, no barcodes or labels. Just a firm yet squishy, dense loaf of good-for-you stone ground wheat.

It's the same with the coffee we buy from the roasters down the street, or the herb garden I'm planting in my back yard. It's like the scarves I made my family for Christmas last year, the curtains I sewed for our living room. All of these things are beautiful if only because they were loved bit by bit.

That's a lot of what's missing these days. We pollute so much, but it's because we're pressed for time, we'd rather have our mass-produced "gourmet" coffee than the delicious espresso from the roaster down the street that's only open Monday through Saturday, 7 A.M. to 6 P.M., but while you're there, check out their local produce cooler for a few fresh veggies.

This all comes down to planning, believe it or not. We live in cities and towns that are approved and built by a small swath of representatives and commissions. These people, supposedly operating in the city's best interest, award contracts and city development changes to people who want to make money off of the citizens in return for a service. The low-income developer wants a zoning change of residential, single-family areas to multi-family areas to make more dense groups of people closer to an existing retail intersection and near a proposed mass transit hub. This is an example of good planning.

More often is the case though, that the zoning change will go to the developer paying off more council members or commission representatives. Such is the case in Dallas, where you can't get needed mass transit to relive congested highways because people in Southern Dallas swear up and down that they've been neglected for so long that mass transit is the only way to relieve their economic and developmental poverty. Not so, I say, since I notice that most people who ride the light-rail lines through downtown get off at Union Station in droves before the lines make the leap into South Dallas. Why? because there's nothing there worth riding towards.

First, build it, then transit will come. But we have a culture of poor planning in Dallas. The area it self is shaped like a hand giving the bird -- much of Dallas itself that is populated by the rich and the influential sits at the North, whereas poverty-stricken South Dallas has few if any wealthy or influential groups, neighborhoods or business.

Putting transit in place and the hoping that business will follow is a very bad idea. First you need good infrastructure from the city -- the two slices of fresh, home-made whole wheat -- then you build it with the meat, the families -- to be topped off by the array of goodies, like the sprouts, cabbage, tomato and onion; flavors that will mix and meld and make the whole sandwich, the city, the neighborhood, that much better.

Monday, March 19, 2007

If you can't stand the heat...

... turn the bleedin' oven off!

For the first time since October, it was actually warm in my kitchen. Dave and I have officially survived this house for one year. *Scattered Applause* I know, it's hard to believe, especially since the place is a seive and has no central air. We're thinking of buying a house, and if we do, I'm going to go mad with a caulking gun. We're going to re-insulate everything and make the sucker totally energy efficient. The only thing I'm concerned about is that if we move to a house out of our current neighborhood, we have to change gyms. And we might have to reconfigure our commutes. Two very undesirable situations. I like our commute, I like my gym, I like my yoga classes... Harrumph...

But, back to the kitchen. Saturday, after early yoga, a little inspired shopping and pulling weeds and tending my garden, I developed a vegetarian gumbo recipe! I call it, "Joanna's vegetarian post-modern gumbo" for it's use of white wine, vegetarian sausage, whole okra, bits of Boca crumbles, a white roux, (made it myself, thankyouverymuch!) halved new potatoes with long strips sweet onions, whole garlic cloves and sauteed red peppers. All that stewed up with cayenne pepper, gumbo file and cumin with a bay leaf and some sage. It was served over a bed of herbed brown rice. YUMMY!

Not to be outdone, Sunday was quite the clip with a thorough home yoga practice and a run through the neighborhood with Fitzgerald. I hung out with Dave for a bit, trying my salmon dip on for size again (could have only been better with walnuts and some fresh parmesan), went to the market to pick up a few things, and then I got to baking:

First, from-scratch basil tomato pizza with marinated tofu

Then a loaf of whole wheat bread (it actually turned out!!!)

And from-scratch key lime pie

That was my first attempt (successful!!!) at making meringue, which is the golden and white topping on the key lime pie. That little knob to the left is a key lime, and must've squeezed God knows how many of the suckers to make the darn pie. Totally labor intensive, but well worth the effort.

I hope you folks are salivating, I'll show you what it looks like from the inside tonight! The gorgeous thing is setting firmly in our fridge, awaiting our own just desserts!

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Lobstera: Queen of the shellfish

Sunburned? Me? Actually, my archnemesis, Shrimp Boat Captain, dipped me halfway into a pot of boiling brine before my army of crustaceans was able to rescue me. That's why my arms and neck are a punchy shade of crimson.

All right. Fine. I went golfing, and idiot that I am, I forgot to put on sunscreen. Conditions were perfect for a less than average 18-holes and a skin searing. Had fun though.




Jessica's wedding was this past weekend, and it was neat getting all gussied up with my sisters. I ran around, hammed it up and acted like a complete ass. Worth it. Totally. This whole weekend really reminded me why I treasure my family like I do. They just get me, you know? Like we speak our own language when we're together, so many memories tangled up that one word or phrase can make them flood an entire room with laughter.

Thursday night, when we arrived at my parents house, we had wine (3 bottles) and cheese with roasted chicken. I was so spoiled this past weekend with great food and wine. I'll be punishing myself this week for all that gastronomic sin. Like my sunburn isn't punishment enough, right?

Hopefully I'll have pictures from my sister Sara to post here later. In the mean time, take a look at that crazy backswing!!!

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Deluded enough to work?

It's been a long time since I've blogged about Dallas, the armpit of the South. Come March 12, the filing deadline for mayoral candidates in Dallas, we'll either have a bevy of would-be exercisors in futility, or just a few annointed business-class mouthpieces. Just a few weeks ago, 21 local nutjobs announced that they had campaign treasurers, a precursor to announcing candidacy. Most, if not all (I'm not going to bother with the specifics) have now announced. Most of these half-wits have not qualified for the ballot, which requires about 475 signatures (reasonable, if you ask me) from registered voters.

So, since so many people tossed their hat into the ring initially, why all the foot-dragging to make it official? Heck, why even bother with running for mayor? I mean, the position has almost no power, we're a weak-mayor/city manager city with 14 districts/wards that hardly see eye to eye. Dallas has no single person that can make the executive decisions that Dallas needs, no one to be ultimately accountible, no one to open doors and close windows, no one to make sure that what's in Dallas' best interest is held higher than what is in one council members' interest. Dallas has no Rudy Giuliani, no person to clean up the streets because we need it. In fact, if someone even aspired to do this, a councilmember would be threatened with that kind of power and sabotage the only way to turn this dying city around.

About a month ago, two of the annointed candidates were discovered to be members of the racially exclusive Dallas Country Club. In fact, one of them left the Anglo upper-crust because a black man was recently refused membership (something to do with his previous affilitations with progressive black and racially oriented action groups). The other annointee? Still a member, but mostly because he doesn't sit on the board that choses those who gain membership to the club. The other annointee, did.

In other mayorally pertinent developments, Don Hill, current southern sector City Council member who will be ousted due to term limits, is running for mayor. Good for him, except for the fact that he is currently under investigation by the FBI for possibly being on an unscrupulous developer's take. Not only that, but it wasn't too long ago that Don Hill was driving a BMW that he had "earned the right" to drive. How does an elected municipal officer "earn" the right to drive a BMW that doesn't belong to him? Was it provided by a campaign contributor? If so, that's a big electoral no-no. Actually, the owner of the BMW, Sheila Farrington, was a business associate of the unscrupulous developer, and Mr. Hill's girlfriend, for whom he would later divorce his wife and then turn around and marry once the ink dried.

That's a great example of what Dallas is up against when it comes to politics. Who's to blame? Where, or to whom do we look to find and solve the problems that plague our city politics, and in turn plague our city?

The problem is not a who or where, it's the way our city is organized; it's our single-member districts that have created sectors and viceroys with no inherent leader to unite them. Yeah, there's a mayor, but what's a mayor's purpose if they are equal to the council? They are employees with executive titles. It's the office that so many people are willing to run for on platforms of change and equality yet they should know after two strong mayor referendums that it just ain't gonna happen. Dallas doesn't get a strong mayor, a system that actually has a chance of working because the other 14 council members don't want to relinquish any power, even for the greater good. This results in an absolute lack of accountability; there is no final word, only a recumbent blame game, where fingers are pointed and accusations are thrown like proverbial bombs among the racially and socially segregated wards, the fifedoms of Dallas.

Once when I first moved here and knew little about the history of Dallas, I thought how cool it would be to start a unity campaign, how neat it would be to actually have ALL of Dallas come together and try to get things done. I was riddled with idealism, I thought that it was possible, but now I know better. You see, southern sector city council members will continue to chase the illusion that if they have control over their districts, then everything will be okay. Well, everything is definately not okay. It's not okay in Oak Cliff, it's not okay in Southern Dallas, it's not okay anywhere south of the Trinity. People are still moving out in droves, crime, murder, burglary, gangs and poverty still choke Dallas in areas that are historically neglected or newly inundated with the poor. Fair Park is a detritus strewn shadow of its former greatness. Pleasant Grove is anything but. What will it take for Dallas to leave ward politics to the past?

Why the hell would you want to run for mayor in Dallas knowing all this?