Recipe of the Night: Sweet potatoes with roasted grapes, honey, and goat cheese

I think I found this recipe by searching for things to do with goat cheese. Goat cheese is one of those items that we buy in big logs whenever it’s on sale, or whenever a recipe calls for even a small amount, and I always have really good intentions of using it up. Then, a few weeks later, I end up scraping a moldy log into the trashcan. So, after using half of it to make an uninspiring vegetarian lasagna the other night, I decided to be vigilant and find a good home for the rest of it.

That home, it turned out, was on a sweet potato.

sweet potato

If you want cute photos, visit the original site. This just serves as proof that I made it.

I microwaved my sweet potatoes instead of baking because it’s summer. A very large one took 8.5 minutes; regular-sized potato took 5-6, and baby potato took 3-4. Next time, I’ll be sure to leave one side (the bottom) unpierced to make these better shells. I used regular canola oil because I have neither the time, patience, or funding to stock grapeseed oil and my high-heat avocado oil seemed inappropriate to the task. Everything else was in proportion, and this wound up taking about 30 minutes total to prepare, though that was all pretty much hands-on time (nuking potatoes at the same time the grapes roasted). The grapes took a little less time than advertised, and I eventually had to turn the heat down to keep them from burning.

Results:

Everybody liked this for different reasons. I liked it because, well, it’s like eating dessert for dinner. C liked it because he said the tangy goat cheese with the grapes was unexpectedly good. Our two-year-old liked it because the mix inside the potato ends up feeling like Play-Dough that can easily be smashed and thrown on the floor, to great effect (parent exclamations).

This ended up not being as messy as I’d feared. Anytime honey gets involved, it gets dicey in my kitchen, but because this is just poured into a recipe it worked out fine. The pan I roasted the grapes in, however, is a total disaster area.

I’m curious about whether cream cheese could fill most of the functions here in the future. The goat cheese broken up on top could be replaced with something else tangy/salty, like a dollop of sour cream. That would make these an even easier/cheaper dish with very common ingredients, and a good way to use up leftover grapes.

So, we’d do it again. Yay!

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Battle For The Net

I’m all for Net Neutrality. We’re a fairly Internet reliant home, and we’ve been under the thumb of the least fair of the Internet players for years (hiya, Comcast). So I take this all kind of personally, with a heaping helping of dread.

Do better, FCC. Please!

Battle for the Net says:

If you woke up tomorrow, and your internet looked like this, what would you do? Imagine all your favorite websites taking forever to load, while you get annoying notifications from your ISP suggesting you switch to one of their approved “Fast Lane” sites.Think about what we would lose: all the weird, alternative, interesting, and enlightening stuff that makes the Internet so much cooler than mainstream Cable TV. What if the only news sites you could reliably connect to were the ones that had deals with companies like Comcast and Verizon?On September 10th, just a few days before the FCC’s comment deadline, public interest organizations are issuing an open, international call for websites and internet users to unite for an “Internet Slowdown” to show the world what the web would be like if Team Cable gets their way and trashes net neutrality. Net neutrality is hard to explain, so our hope is that this action will help SHOW the world what’s really at stake if we lose the open Internet.If you’ve got a website, blog or tumblr, get the code to join the #InternetSlowdown here: https://battleforthenet.com/sept10thEveryone else, here’s a quick list of things you can do to help spread the word about the slowdown: http://tumblr.fightforthefuture.org/post/96020972118/be-a-part-of-the-great-internet-slowdown Get creative! Don’t let us tell you what to do. See you on the net September 10th!

via Battle For The Net.

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I tried the coffee nap, and the coffee nap won

Last week, I read this article that said “Scientists Agree: Coffee naps are better than coffee or naps alone.” At first I thought we’d again seen a new branch in the “two great tastes that should never, ever go together” vein, like Peanut Butter Bacon Cookies or Chris Martin dating Jennifer Lawrence (ok, tastes may vary). But, no:

But here’s the trick of the coffee nap: sleeping naturally clears adenosine from the brain. If you nap for longer than 15 or 20 minutes, your brain is more likely to enter deeper stages of sleep that take some time to recover from. But shorter naps generally don’t lead to this so-called “sleep inertia” — and it takes around 20 minutes for the caffeine to get through your gastrointestinal tract and bloodstream anyway.

So if you nap for those 20 minutes, you’ll reduce your levels of adenosine just in time for the caffeine to kick in. The caffeine will have less adenosine to compete with, and will thereby be even more effective in making you alert.

Today, because my kid went down for a nap two hours earlier than usual (and also because she woke up three hours earlier than usual), I had not only the time for a coffee nap, I had the incentive — because she’s going to be all rested and rarin’ to go and “let’s play train-dinosaur-mall-tea party!” this afternoon. I, usually, will be like, “Let’s play couch.” Maybe the coffee nap could help.

So, I brewed some coffee. There’s a whole story here because there always is. See, I just got back from a seven-week vacation/work crew tour of the Midwest and South, and I think before I left, I also brewed a pot of coffee. And then I left. For seven weeks. The coffee pot I came back to had stuff crawling up the sides and out the top. I took some of it outside to the kiddie pool and threw it in and guess what? It wasn’t a witch, so that’s a relief. Because some of my two readers may drink coffee at my home in the future, I’m going to leave you in suspense as to whether I just burned the pot on the driveway and bought a new one or whether I cleaned it thoroughly with The Internet’s Best Friend (vineagar) and then used it again.

Coffee thus brewed, I read the instructions carefully about how I’d need to drink quickly. This was hot, strong coffee, so I added the one thing in my fridge guaranteed to make anything go down much more quickly: heavy cream. I drank the coffee as I walked back to the bedroom, kicking off my shoes as I drank for maximum nap efficiency. Coffee thus consumed, I set a timer for 20:30 and went into a half-daze nap.

The result?

At the end of twenty minutes, I woke up — and actually woke up. I didn’t have that awful post-nap muzzy feeling like usual, and I didn’t want to kill my phone alarm or its makers. I just got up, got my coffee cup, and went back to the kitchen for a refill. And then I wrote this. It’s possible that this reprogrammed my brain to function only on coffee (with heavy cream). I think maybe I don’t need water anymore. Or air. Or a job. This is the best nap stuff ever. I feel absolutely ready to take a five-question quiz, play a memory game, or spend a few productive hours playing Tower Defense.

Thanks, Internet.

(cross-posted to AllTheFussy.com, as I’ll probably do with most things baby-related).

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The problem with Ebola stories

It seems like most of the Ebola stories I’ve read recently have begun with some variation upon, “The Ebola strain that has now killed hundreds of Africans has now sickened several Americans so we should really start taking it seriously.”

Because clearly only once an illness affects Westerners, that’s the best sign that this is something we should all worry about. Like The Hot Zone.

Sigh.

Examples:

The Washington Post

USA Today

FOX News

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Just when I’m done with Keith Olbermann…

… he proves why I liked him in the first place. “Keith Olbermann Wonders Why the NFL Doesn’t Think Women Are Worthy of ‘Basic Human Respect'”

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But, life, what if you don’t like lemonade?

So, it’s been a rough six weeks here. There have been professional setbacks/layoffs. There has been a family emergency and some necessary, open-ended rescheduling of two major trips to which we were all looking forward.

Also, I’ve been working. This was going to be an easy term because 2 of my scheduled classes were canceled. I kept thinking this was going to be so easy, but now, I realize, I can say this term was hard. I taught 4 classes in three different subjects (English-Poetry, Writing-Comp, and Study Skills) on three different campuses in three different towns for two different schools. I traveled two days a week and taught my first night class since my daughter was born. I kept telling myself I wasn’t that busy, but you know what? Screw that, I was busy. I also made about 80 percent of the meals we ate at home, participated in two readings (with different work each time), and, oh yeah, I have an almost two-year-old girl at home who has never been to daycare and spent a sum total of 10 hours out of the presence of either parent in the last there months.

Anyway. So I was busy, and I was stressed out, and I kept feeling bad for being stressed out because this was going to be an easy term. Great combination.

Now, there are two things I do when I’m stressed out, and as to the first, I baked many, many things and ate many, many of these things. The second thing I do? I write.

So today, one month and one day after starting this new project inspired from all of that old writing, I hit my goal. You know why? Because it’s been a bad month. I don’t know that this is, yet, a good novel, but it’s nearly done, and I’m actually happy about that.

Screenshot 2014 06 21 15 55 43

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500,000 Found Words

This week, I found roughly 500,000 lost words that I wrote over a 6 year period.

Backstory: In 2007-2008, I had two catastrophic computer crashes on two separate machines. Shortly before my thesis was due to my adviser, my iBook had a catastrophic crash. I had it programmed for automatic back-ups, so I didn’t lose anything, but the restore process left most of my files scattered over multiple .zip files, and I didn’t have time to untangle things then. (If you don’t speak computer: A zip file is like one of those space-aged storage bags, the ones where you stack up all of your winter sweaters and then suck out all of the air so it compresses. It’s great for saving room; it’s less great, sometimes, when you just want the one sweater in the middle of the bag). The next year, I bought a new computer (a MacBook) when that computer’s case cracked, and I transferred everything over in another big .zip hunk.

Then, two years after that, my new MacBook was stolen. Again, automatic backups saved me, and I didn’t lose anything, but now I had a .zip restore of .zip transfers of .zip backups. (Translation: A Space Bag holding another Space Bag holding another Space Bag, in which all of my files were sealed into individual Ziplocs). I restored everything to a temporary computer, an iMac. When I moved to yet another new computer, I left most of these files sitting on my old iMac because they looked like big piles of crap. The new computer was lean, clean, a fresh start.

About two weeks ago, we resurrected the old iMac for use in the kitchen. When I was searching for something completely unrelated (barbecue tools), I came upon a cache of these old files. Everything I wrote between, say, 2001 and 2008 is sitting on this computer, zipped into neat little packages.  It was the work of about an hour to get everything unpacked and uploaded to Dropbox and backed up to Mozy.com once again.

And now I’m digging through things. It’s — awesome. I don’t mean the quality. I mean the finding. I haven’t seen some of these stories in years; I don’t remember even writing some of them. There’s enough time separating me from most of the work that I’m not even (too) embarrassed by it. I found roughly 500,000 old words of mine this week, and they all make me want to write many, many more new ones. It’s the best unpacking I’ve done in years.

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