Archive for January, 2010

Honoring Haiti

Poverty and hunger are not inevitable.

A horrific tragedy hit one of the world’s poorest countries earlier this week and the response has been immediate and abundant. Humanity is at its finest at times like these and dim shouts and ignorant remarks from the fringes have been promptly and firmly tamped down.

Food, medicine, equipment, manpower, shelter, infrastructure—even prayer—are tumbling into Haiti from every corner of the world. As I write this, the small airport there is bulging to the point where flights have been suspended for lack of return fuel and runway space. The help this tragically poor nation deserves comes after a record shattering earthquake that sent a nation teetering on a precipice firmly over the edge. After decades of unimaginable poverty and despair and four previous natural disasters, Haiti is leveled. Haiti is a country in ruin.

The images are gripping, the need dire, the event almost beyond comprehension. I sit here and wonder what I can do beyond sending a few dollars and offering up prayers. How can I make a difference to honor Haiti’s millions of sad, desperate, proud souls.

In the midst of all this a memory struck me after a Facebook friend commented that he couldn’t focus to work; he was so gripped by Haiti’s plight.

Decades ago a group of aid workers (in Africa) hit on an idea that was so simple and so effective you might wonder why no one thought of it before. The village they were working in was devastated by poverty and by hunger; locals were wholly dependent on a corrupt and unreliable system for food and for sustenance.

The lives of these villagers were dramatically changed when they were taught to farm, rotate crops, irrigate. They were encouraged to coop what they grew and to carry their extra crop to a city market several times a year. The farms also afforded them the opportunity to (eventually) grow feed for animals that in turn gave them milk, eggs, meat.

A few cents worth of seed and some dedicated men and women sharing their expertise can change the world….one small village at a time.  The extended benefits of a healthy populace is immeasurable and it is with this that I am refocusing.

Hunger is a misery and a poverty that cuts the souls, ruins the heart and destroys the body. But it is not inevitable and I—we—-can do something about it. Pick one thing. Do it. Encourage everyone you know to do the same. “Light one little candle…”

Improve food supplies

  • Plant home, community and school gardens
  • Find ways, neighborhood permitting, to raise poultry for eggs to eat or sell
  • Become involved in co-operative efforts to grow and sell foods
  • Support local farmers; buy locally grown foods
  • Establish centers or food banks to share food.

Help others

  • Volunteer to work for hunger issues;
  • Volunteer to work in food or meal distribution centers
  • Establish food centers or food banks to share extra food
  • Work with the local food industry to redistribute surplus food
  • Invite commercial food growers and producers to participate

Education, the Community and Sharing

  • Know who in the community is working to fight hunger, listen to them, and share ideas with them, support them
  • Know who in the community has knowledge about health and nutrition, listen to them, and share ideas with them
  • Share information with families, friends and neighbors
  • Share school projects and post reports in community spaces
  • Share ideas wit community leaders, politicians
  • Urge community leaders, business leaders, local health workers, educators… to become involved with school projects around issues of hunger and nutrition.

http://www.georgiaorganics.org/

http://www.heifer.org/

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4 The 1’s I Love

 Several weeks ago I received an email from one of my sons’ childhood friends. She was commenting on her mother’s cooking and I was enjoying this new perspective on a woman who I had long held in high esteem and viewed with admiration. (Her mother is a brilliant sculptor with works in the permanent collections of several of the world’s major museums).

She wrote, “My mom made macaroni and cheese with Mueller’s corkscrew pasta- and the cheese was Campbell’s cheddar cheese soup, condensed.  At least that’s all I remember-  there might have been other magical ingredients, but I don’t think so. well- butter.  lots of butter.  the macaroni was passable- but her meatloaf was DREADFUL. Image of: mom’s hands mixing raw hamburger meat, raw eggs, Lawry’s crazy Salt (sp?)  oatmeal and ketchup together in a big orange bowl.  Yuck

The idea of this woman, whose talented hands created life sized bronzes for the Tate and the Hirshhorn, squishing meatloaf between her fingers, sent me into gales of laughter. How our children view us! I wondered what my sons thought about my cooking (when they were young) and  I fired off notes asking what they remembered.

                     From #1 son:

Of course, the first good food things that come to mind are Chicken with Cashews and Tuna casserole.

The two not-so-good things are Salmon croquettes, and of course, the frozen salmon itself.

Mom, those croquettes (and the pork chops, now that I think about it) were so dry, you could have used them as sandpaper. I never wanted to hurt your feelings, though, since you always looked so pleased when you announced the dinner menu on those fateful nights… No wonder that I don’t eat salmon at all??”

I’m adding a note on the frozen salmon (since #1 son diplomatically omitted why he added that to his list): I had pulled a large piece from the freezer to defrost for dinner. Shortly after there was a need to grab something in an attempt to level discipline and the frozen salmon was handy. I swung and made good contact with a fleeing tush. Later the salmon was cooked and served. Like O’Henry wrote, the evidence was consumed and the injured party was not to be believed when he complained about “being beaten with frozen fish”

                    From #2 son:

Corn fritters.

Corn fritters.

Corn fritters.

And also, corn fritters.

One time when you were living in Bedford Hills I came over for lunch and you made homemade mayonnaise to mix in my tuna sandwich. I thought then and still think that stuff is gross, but I was still impressed you knew how to make your own. 🙂

Later on #2 son added silver dollar pancakes (as something he liked).  After reading their remarks I realized,  I should have left well enough alone.

Stu’s Chicken with Cashews

Serves 8

  • 3 ½ lbs boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • 2 TBS cornstarch
  • 6 scallions, white and green part, sliced thin
  • 1 4oz can water chestnuts, sliced thin
  • 3 large cloves of garlic, minced
  • ½ LB salted cashews
  • S&P to taste
  • 4 TBS Peanut oil + more for cooking

Method:

  • Cut chicken into 1” pieces (partially frozen chicken is easier to cut)
  • Pat dry and put the pieces in a bowl. Season with S&P.
  • Add the cornstarch and mix well, making sure all pieces are well coated. Dust with more cornstarch if needed
  • Add the 4 tablespoons of peanut oil and mix well.
  • Heat a heavy duty sauté pan or wok over medium high heat. Add peanut oil to 1”. When the oil “shimmers”—is hot—add the chicken and stir fry until light golden brown and just cooked. Do not crowd the pan. Do this in batches if necessary.
  • Remove the cooked chicken pieces to a strainer to drain and set aside.
  • Pour off the old oil, reheat the pan over medium heat and add enough fresh oil to lightly coat the bottom of the pan. Add the water chestnuts and sauté for one minute.
  • Add the garlic and sauté until the garlic is softened, about 2 minutes.
  • Add the cashews and sauté an additional minute.
  • Return the chicken to the pan, mix in the scallions and cook just to reheat the chicken, about 1-2 minutes.
  • Check seasonings and serve immediately over white rice

 Cory’s Corn Fritters

Serves 4

  • 1 1# can of corn, well drained
  • 1 large egg, well beaten
  • 2 TBS whole milk
  • 3 TBS flour
  • ½ tsp baking powder
  • Salt and black pepper to taste
  • Optional: pinch cayenne

 Method

  • Mix all ingredients together, cover loosely and let sit for 10 minutes
  • Heat a heavy duty pan over medium heat, and coat with ½ ” vegetable or canola oil.
  • Drop the mix by soup spoon full carefully into the hot oil to form small cakes about 3” around
  • fry until golden brown on both sides.
  • Drain on paper towels and serve hot

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