cook by number

January 31, 2007

For those of you who think you can’t cook…

Check out these recipes.


food for today’s thoughts

January 30, 2007

There’s a really interesting article on internet media, the revolt of the reader and the relationship between author and media consumer by Gary Kamiya at today. I highly recommend it. I guess it my eye for three reasons: 1) because I am a person who occasionally comments via web forum or e-mail with an author whose work I read 2) because I also receive comments for the occasional Journal Sentinel column that I write and 3) because I appreciate the analysis that the accessibility reader has to author in this age can be both brilliant (’s Editor’s Choice comments are one of my favorite ‘net addictions), enlightening, controversial and tense.

Read and comment here, if you like.

el cine

January 29, 2007

With the advent of Blockbuster online, and now, even better, Blockbuster Total Access, my ability to catch most of the movies I really want to see has increased dramatically.

I’ve always enjoyed a great foreign film, an art-house flick, a romantic comedy here and there, but there were so many times when I would see an intriguing preview, say I would rent it one day, and then, unless it was a blockbuster and plastered all over the shelves of my local Blockbuster store, never remembered I had ever had interest in it.

These days, I not only read a lot more movie reviews, but I get to do tiny movie reviews for MKE Magazine, which guarantees me about one free theater visit per month, and, I have my Blockbuster queue, which is truly a brilliant invention. I lose lists, and would never keep updating a file of movies I wanted to see, but the internet, now that’s easy. So, for example, I want to see Children of Men, but I didn’t get to review it, and it doesn’t seem like something I’m going to see alone in the theater, but I can add it to my queue, even if we are 8 months from it’s DVD release, I won’t be able to completely forget it.

So, for those of you who feel you have too much time and not enough entertainment on your hands, sign up for one of these online movie services. With Blockbuster, you pay a monthly fee (less than $20) and you can also return your movies to a store, and trade them in, for free! This is good for a rainy Saturday when you have already watched your weekend movie the night before but won’t receive another in time for the long dreary night ahead.

Anyway, with that advertisement, a few of my favorite foreign films from the last year or two:

The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada,” starring Tommy Lee Jones
Friendship, death, loyalty, morality, humanity and redemption.

Jet Li’s “Fearless” aka “Hua Yuanjia”
Pride, honor, respect and the art of wushu (martial arts) – beautiful, sweeping Chinese film at its best

All About My Mother” – directed by Pedro Almodovar
Disturbing, emotionally overbearing and altogether enlightening.

“House of Flying Daggers”
Turn the lights off and be enraptured by one of China’s greatest directors in this beautiful epic

poster vs. lurker

January 29, 2007

I’ve been writing a lot lately, more than I have probably ever in my life. I used to journal a lot, but other than the occasional inspired sitting, my journaling was usually quite mundane and repetitive: “Please God, help me not like <insert some guy’s name here> so much, so that I can concentrate on school and other things.” Lame stuff like that. Today, I’ve got a couple column ideas in the works, there’s this slowing growing and evolving chapter of some potential future book on my hard drive, and then my near-obsessive posting on both and, more recently, the Lonely Planet Thorn Tree forum.

A few weeks ago I had dinner with some college friends, we got on the topic of web forums, and which of us were “posters” and which of us were “lurkers.” I am 100% poster, as was one of the other friends present, the same one who succeeded me as the Opinion Editor at the Daily Cardinal years back. It makes sense, but I never thought much about those distinctions, and what they say about one’s personality.

Like my fellow former editor, I can be rather outspoken, especially among friends and family, moreso among my closest friends. Regular readers may also remember that I have been described as loud. I love exchanging opinions, reading the thoughts of others, banter and sparring. And I admit, there are times I prefer the setting of a web forum over face-to-face conversation, but that is of course because I am a writer far more than a verbal communicator. Every day I fight a losing battle against my tendency for verbosity, and particularly, for inundating others with needless details.

Hopefully this will come in handy one day when I write my first novel, or memoir. I hope they won’t be bored.

I like being a “poster” though, I like feeling part of a group, even if they are essentially strangers, that communicate on different levels about the same idea. The immigration web site has been enormously helpful to me during the past seven months. This weekend, I happened to be in Madison and was reminded that one of the women I correspond with on that forum lives there. We met and had drinks and chatted about our stories and encounters with immigration.

Considering how incredibly individualized our American lives have become, I’m thankful for any places that allow people to express themselves openly, read and write and interact, share information, and grow.

strange web happenings

January 23, 2007

You find the strangest things via the internet.

I’ve become the type of blogger who looks over my site stats every few days. Today I had a strange “referrer,” as it’s called, basically the link to the site where some unknown person linked to my site.

Apparently, if you go to and put in Qdoba Mexican Grill, halfway down the first page, there is a link to the one time a while ago I actually mentioned the name of my formerly full-time employer. Sort of odd. And apparently someone, who Qdoba, decided to check out my blog.

There was also a link to one of an immigration-related yet creepily blank advertising/links pages, where apparently my site pops up on occasion.

Then there are the usual linkers, Mary’s site, Mark’s site, Jennie’s site.

While it’s fun to have friends, I also discovered an apparently well-known joy of gmail today. Gmail always seems to have a disturbingly right-on link at the top of all their pages. So today I was e-mailing with a friend about skiing, and it gave me a link to an online ski shop, or whenever my dad and I e-mail spar about politics, there is a link to some political site.

But, what I never realized, is that inside one’s spam folder, there is always a recipe for Spam, that’s the right, the one with the capital “S.” My co-worker informed me this afternoon that this was way old news, but I still had to giggle at “toasted golden Spam cakes” or tonight’s “Spam imperial tortilla sandwiches.” I clicked on one too, it actually takes you to a recipe site!


January 23, 2007

I had a rather non-controversial, non-exciting column published today. If anyone is interested, here’s the link. This has been a bit of an issue lately in Milwaukee. Details about some of the stuff going on are at this link. More interesting writing later.

milk matters

January 19, 2007

Three years ago, when I was in Mexico, I got an unpleasant case of what was probably food poisoning. I don’t know what caused it, but considering I have previously traveled in several other coutnries and lived for a year in China with no digestive issues, I was quite taken aback by how badly I reacted to something.

This December, I started out the trip much more carefully. I didn’t eat any raw fruit with skin and was careful not to ingest unboiled tap water. The first morning at my husband’s house though, I was faced with a decision about raw milk. Mexicans, or at least my husband’s family, typically drink a glass of warm milk with a piece of bakery for breakfast every morning.

Their milk arrives in a metal pail, every other day, from a very old man who delivers it, I assume, straight from his cow. We got into a discussion of whether I should drink it, his mom saying it’s fine because she had boiled it, my husband saying I should decide but that sometimes his brother (who has a weak stomach anyway) gets sick from it.

Well, I drank it, almost every day, and I was fine the whole trip. It’s not that I thought the milk was what made me sick last time, but I just read a very interesting article on raw milk, and what is apparently now a very small “movement” to drink raw milk for a myriad of health benefits. There are lots of angles in this article, and it’s Salon, so of course it’s left-leaning, but it’s very interesting.

It also makes me think about my general feeling (not based on fact or study, just based on anecdotal evidence and experience in other “less-developed” countries) that the food we eat in the U.S. — how it’s produced, what it’s made of, its processing, has caused the myriad of strange health problems that don’t seem to be occuring at the same rates in the rest of the world.

The first thing I think of are allergies. Now granted, allergies were around when I was a kid, I was once tested and proclaimed allergic to milk, peanut butter and chocolate. I consume all of those things with no unusual results, so I always thought it was a load of crap, but just during the last 10 or 15 years, it seems that freakishly lethal reactions to peanuts, among other things, have become commonplace.

One theory is that children’s immune systems are not being challenged enough to make them work right, and therefore they go haywire when encountering something harmless and commonplace like a peanut. I don’t know how all this stuff works together, but I have to agree with the article’s angle and the following comments that suggest there is something inately better about food that is simply produced, raw and local, even more than just organic.

If anyone has a little while to read the article, please post your thoughts.

And by the way, that warm, fresh milk with a little sugar is, indeed, delicious.