Saturday, February 27, 2010

1001 Nights (Burton Translation)

When I was a child I had a well-loved but abridged copy of 1001 Nights (aka Arabian Nights). I knew there were some stories which were missing from my copy, so I figured I could read the whole thing and find out what wondrous tales have been excised in the name of brevity.

Well, as it turns out, I'm guessing not all the stories were excised for considerations of length. There's one, which goes on at some length, that involves a man carousing completely naked with three women and uses a lot of explicit terms. Yeah, they won't put that one in the children's edition, that's for sure. The story's not over yet either; the way the stories are nested several layers deep means that it'll be a few more chapters before I get to find out what happens to them and why the ladies are so willing to get nekkid with the guy who carried their groceries, or beat their dogs so cruelly.

Also, I'm noticing a theme in all these stories. Miscegenation seems to be a common theme. It seems that one of the greatest fears in the ancient Middle East is that their women will get it on with a black guy. The black men are always described as hideous and large-lipped. Now I'm not so sensitive that I don't mind discussing racial stereotypes with my kids. We have black friends and my older kids read Frederick Douglass' autobiography quite some time ago, so they know the truth, and they need to be aware of stereotypes, if only to know what to avoid. But it just gets grating how 1001 Nights seems to obsess about the whole miscegenation thing. Every third story has a woman getting it on with a black guy behind somebody's back.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Q&D dinners: Pancit

My mother-in-law makes the most delicious pancit (pronounced PAHN-sit, and also spelled pansit). It is a Filipino noodle dish with vegetables and meat. You could easily make it vegan by simply omitting the meat in the recipe and using your favorite vegan margarine. (All Filipino dishes that don't contain meat contain some sort of animal byproduct... dinuguan, I'm looking at YOU!) Pancit is a regular at family banquets; it is the Filipino equivalent of Utah's ubiquitous funeral potatoes. It is very easy to make and you can use up odd bits of leftover meat if you've got 'em. Tonight's pancit includes three leftover pork chops. Nobody ever eats the leftover pork chops, so I was happy to get some use out of them. Amounts of each ingredient are highly variable. If you really like carrots add more carrots. If you have two or five leftover pork chops, or a pork chop and a chicken breast, just throw it all in; it's very difficult to ruin this dish.

The best noodles to use in pancit are of course the yellowish wheat-and-egg-based pancit canton noodles, which you can pick up at any reputable Asian store. Bean thread noodles are also nice (and free of major allergens), but they are clear when cooked, which makes them look like... well, they may remind the casual observer of icky things. I personally like pancit made with a mixture of pancit canton and bean thread noodles. But you don't have to use special Asian noodles. You can use spaghetti, which is similar to pancit canton except that it doesn't have eggs in it and thus is whitish instead of yellowish. My authentically Filipino mother-in-law has been known to use spaghetti from time to time. If you're gluten free you can use rice spaghetti. You can even use leftover noodles!

And of course, my favorite dishes are all cooked in one pot, because I'm the one who has to wash it afterwards! So I've included directions to make pancit in one pot. You can readily use more than one pot for faster cooking time.


1 pkg bean thread noodles OR 1 lb. spaghetti or pancit canton noodles
broth or bouillon
2 Tbsp. butter or margarine
3 stalks celery
1 large carrot or 2 small carrots
1 small onion
a few cups of leftover cooked meat, chopped into chunks, or 1 large can meat chunks
salt and pepper to taste

Cook your noodles according to package directions, except use broth or bouillon instead of water. If you don't have enough broth to cook the noodles entirely in broth, use a mixture of broth and water. Drain noodles, reserving a couple of cups of cooking liquid.

While noodles cook, chop celery on the diagonal into oblique pieces. Peel the carrot, then use the peeler to shave it entirely into shreds. Chop the onion. While noodles drain, melt butter or margarine in cooking pot. Saute vegetables in butter until softened. Add meat and continue sauteeing until meat is warmed. Add cooked noodles and stir until mixed and heated through. Use reserved cooking liquid to moisten the noodles if necessary to facilitate mixing. Season to taste.

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I Am Spartacus

There's a rumor going around that Bill Clinton and James Carville are going to dig up some dirt on the Tea Party leadership to try to discredit them. They wave aside the obvious difficulty that there isn't a single leader or cabal in charge of an actual grassroots movement. So now there's this site where everyone is standing up and declaring themselves the Tea Party leader, just like with Spartacus.

I don't have video capabilities so I can't contribute my own video clip to the site. But I will declare myself the Tea Party leader (my official title is "Tea Party Empress," thank you very much, please use it in all your press releases!) and because I'm just that kind of gal, I'll make things easier for Bill and Jim by telling them where to look for the dirt they want on me. I cheated on a test in 8th grade, and I yelled at a bunch of people on a production of "Pippin" that I was costuming my freshman year in college. I think I flipped somebody off while driving on SR-36 about a year ago, but in my defense I'll say that after I accidentally cut him off while he was driving in my van's blind spot, he made a point of cutting me off repeatedly for a few miles; and I made sure my kids couldn't see my hand, which means the idiot probably couldn't either. I was delinquent on my student loans a few times, and one time a problem at the bank made my mortgage retroactively late for a few months. I made a couple hundred dollars doing private tutoring, but I don't think I declared it on my taxes that year. For Christmas last year I gave my nieces and nephews crochet hats that hadn't been tested for lead by a third party laboratory and didn't bear the required CPSIA tracking labels. And I once slapped FH for no particularly good reason, though he still married me not too long thereafter. Oh, and I tore the tag off the mattress AND took the label off the new toilet bowl.

Do your worst, Bill and Jim! I am Spartacus!

Friday, February 19, 2010

At least he could move to Catalonia

We are trying to get Bagel to ease up a bit on his obsession with poop. He asked me if he could have a whoopee cushion, and I told him no, since his entire day is usually taken up in adding scatological words to ordinary activities and I didn't want to add an entire layer of sound effects to it. I told him if he could go an entire day without talking about poop, farts, or other defecatory topics, I'd get him a whoopee cushion. So far, no success. But he is becoming more aware of his poop obsession.

And now I discover that there is an entire country (OK, technically an area of a country) where he'd fit right in: Catalonia. Evidently their culture is obsessed with pooping. Their traditional Christmas decor includes small statues of people pooping. Children get presents and candy by beating a log until it poops them out. That sounds like something right up Bagel's alley, since it involves both beating and pooping. (I just hope Bagel doesn't find out about this until he's older, though, because I really don't want to have to spend every Christmas rescuing Knuckles from being beaten underneath a blanket for not pooping out all the candy he's been sneaking. I could just see him doing that.)

This gives me hope for the future. If Bagel never does outgrow his obsession with pooping, at least I can suggest that he move to Catalonia, where his Christmas holidays will be extremely joyous.

Monday, February 08, 2010

And You Wonder Why We Never Have Family Home Evening...

Sonshine is having some problems at school with kids making fun of him, so when FH came home he said, "I have the perfect scripture for Family Home Evening tonight!" and had me look up 2 Kings 2:23-24:
23 And he went up from thence unto Beth-el: and as he was going up by the way, there came forth little children out of the city, and mocked him, and said unto him, Go up, thou bald head; go up, thou bald head.
24 And he turned back, and looked on them, and cursed them in the name of the Lord. And there came forth two she bears out of the wood, and tare forty and two children of them.
OK, I thought, a bit unusual, but Sonshine will find it funny and we'll run with it. So we had this for a scripture, and our lesson included a role play on what to do when somebody insults you. The kids got a little more into the role play than was absolutely necessary and were hard to quiet down for closing prayer. But then FH sat them down to watch this video... (language warning)

... aaaand that was pretty much the end of the Family Home Evening, as well as any semblance of discipline we may have had in the house. The kids went upstairs alternately mauling each other like she-bears and dropping their pants and calling themselves Baby Brent.

If the Bishop ever reads this post, he will now understand why we hardly ever have the stomach for Family Home Evening. All those mental pictures of eager, quiet, fully clothed children with clean faces watching as Mom does a flannel board presentation of a scripture story? Not at our house. Not by a mile.

Saturday, February 06, 2010

My Booties On CheapTweet

CheapTweet has mentioned and linked my Superbowl baby booties in their Happy Hour video!