Guru Rabbit

Turn a new leaf (and EAT it)

A Little Playlist September 9, 2012

Filed under: Uncategorized — rabbit @ 8:59 pm

As a reflection on the past month, the past year, and looking towards the future…

For Dad

For my mother, brothers and sisters, through blood and through spirit

For aunts and uncles and cousins, the canvas of my life

For the friends who have held me up, and practically saved me from myself…

Times are changing, folks.  Guru Rabbit will be back, and better than before.

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Grits ‘n’ Greens, Mediterranean-Style January 29, 2012

Maybe it’s because I’m part Mexican.  Maybe it’s because I’m part Paraguayan (the lost land of South America).  Or maybe it’s because I’m American-born.  But I’m quite a fan of any food that is based on corn as a grain.  Corn tortillas, tortilla chips, corn nuts, Fritos, grits, tamales, cornbread, pop-corn, Corn Pops…  I once lost, and swallowed, a baby tooth while eating Corn Pops.  Corn Flakes are kinda boring, but I’d eat them, I guess.  And let’s not forget Cheetos.  The crunchy kind, not puffy.

And then there’s polenta, the Italian answer to American grits.  Both are a simple combination of cornmeal and water to produce a porridge, but polenta is cooked longer than grits, to bring out more flavor from the grain.   Additionally, there is soft polenta, and firm.  Soft polenta is a more velvety version of grits.  Firm polenta has a creamy interior, yet is able to hold its shape.  Either style can be fashioned in a variety of ways: as breakfast, lunch, or dinner; main dish or side; sweet or savory; boldly flavored or mild.  Cornmeal is awesome…

Firm Polenta (to impress your friends and family)

2 cups cornmeal (I used half coarse and fine ground)

6 cups water

salt to taste

any other desired herbs or spices (optional)

butter or olive oil (optional)

1) In a medium bowl, whisk together the cornmeal and 2 cups of the water to make a mush.

2) Heat the remaining water to a boil.  Add the salt, and whisk in the cornmeal mush.  I also threw in some black pepper, nutmeg, and paprika.  Reduce the heat to low, and cook for 30 to 45 minutes.  Stir almost constantly.  As time passes, the polenta will thicken.  (I went for 30 minutes, arms got tired.)

3) Once the time is up, spread the polenta onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.  You can spread it as thick as one inch, or thinner.  Let it cool for at least 15 minutes, depending on the thickness.  I neglected mine for a couple of hours, actually…

4) Once the polenta is cooled, you can cut it into any shape you desire.  I happened to have received some AWESOMELY AMAZING animal-shape cutters from Henry’s sister, Justine.  I couldn’t help but use the rabbit…  Thaaank yoooouuu Justiiiiiiinnne :)

5)  Bake your bunnies polenta at 400°F for 20-30 minutes, or til desired crispiness.

After that, you can do what ever you like with your polenta.  But I have a suggestion…

Saute a few cloves of garlic and a cup of sliced mushrooms in a bit of olive oil.  Add half a cup each of chopped black olives and raisins, and half a pound of fresh spinach (trust me on the olive-raisin combination, especially if you like sweet-and-salty stuff).  Once the spinach is cooked, season with salt, pepper, and some vinegar if that’s your thing.  Then throw in a quarter cup of chopped nuts or seeds.  I used pistachios, but anything will  do.

Some paprika for color, and CUTEST DINNER EVER.

 

Le Birthday. Part I August 14, 2011

Filed under: Random,Uncategorized — rabbit @ 1:39 pm
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Let it be known: my youth is OVER.

I am now a quarter of a century old, steadily picking up speed toward 30, 40, 50, etc.  Tragic.

Yet I still look and feel, physically, like I’m fifteen.  A curse until I’m thirty.  Unless I have children by the time I’m thirty, in which case circumstance and genetics will dictate whether or not I “look” my age.  But at this point, the only kids I want are of the caprine nature…  so that I can one day make my own goat cheese and yogurt.  Would that not be a win?  Yes.

So the night of my actual birthday was a random sort of events.  I had not even anticipated even going out, but Henry (the beau, of course) had just gotten back into town from a Dixie journey, and he is all about good times and seeing to that I have them.  (And that’s a good beau, is it not?)

So off we went, to meet up with:

David and Allie… freaks… (that’s a vodka + tonic by the way)

and…

Hamilton (Matt) and Baxter (Farrah)! (Who drank whiskey and beer, respectively)

*BOOP*

You should know that Hamilton and I wear the same size pants.

So the night began at Bougainvillea’s (or Bougie’s) where we endured the quiet outdoor humidity, as well as the air conditioned noisy chatter and reggae delights of Jahfe (my faaavorite local band [so far]).  And because it was reggae night, Red Stripe was on special. Hurray, beer! (but seriously, much love for Red Stripe).

One of the best moments was Allie “demonstrating” a choke hold on David…

…and a random girl asking if everything was alright between them.  Lolz.  Die, Davie, Die.

I gotta say though, Jahfe sounds much better on the outside deck at Tobacco Road.  Or maybe we just didn’t stay long enough.  It was a pretty crowded space and the night needed to move on…

Gaaaahhh!

We tried a couple other places (whose names won’t be mentioned [this time]) where the karaoke was beyond  intolerable, and ladies’ night was a bit too much lady goin’ on… (take that as you will, but in general, ladies’ night is always ridiculously crowded, is what I’m sayin’).

So we moved on to Flannigan’s, a restaurant/bar I would pretty much never go to unless I was in severe need of sub-par food and/or booze.  Well… tonight was one of those nights, and we ALL were in search of some sub-par food and booze.  Win…?  I was strategic in what I ordered though: plain tortilla chips with a side of guacamole and pico de gallo.  There was no way I was going to eat “loaded nachos” at 1am.  Plus, I enjoy the challenge of trying to find something at least halfway healthy, and untouched by bacon grease at these types of joints… (though I bet there was a slab of raw bacon sitting on my chips before they were served to me.)

And hey, I got a candle on my pico de gallo!

Thanks for the candle, Baxter!

And actually, that was some pretty good pico de gallo. With some pretty damn good people.  And Newcastle beer?  InDEED!

PLUS, not to be a narcissist, but…

Keewwwwwwllllllll…

 

My House Guest August 8, 2011

Filed under: Random,Uncategorized — rabbit @ 12:01 pm
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Everyone, meet Nesa…

She is my brother’s and (future) sister-in-law’s kitty.  They found her when she was just a couple weeks old, all raggedy and dirty and gross, on North East Second Avenue <– her name is an acronym for the street.  She is also known as Nessie, and according to my brother, Mittens, because he calls all cats Mittens.

Nessie has been staying with me over the weekend while her Mummy and Daddy travel (yet again) to Key West.  This is her third stay with me, and she is still initially terrified of the ceiling fan.  She pretty much refuses to come out, even for food and water.  She will stay in hermit mode for the first 24 hours when she’s over here.  This time I decided to put the food and water under the bed where she was hiding, and finally she ate and drank.

Other than being skittish, Nessie enjoys head and chin scratches; staring at people and things with her gigantic green eyes; playing with her food before eating it; smelling my breath; running around and jumping on and scratching the furniture; waking me up to play all through the night; sleeping by my leg; rubbing against my legs when I’m on the porcelain throne; and as I suspected, peering into the toilet and possibly drinking the water (the one time I forget to put the lid down!).  And although she’s too big and feisty now, she once let me put my mouth over her face.  It was cute.

I think this post is just as good, if not better, than a post about food. ~_~

*Edit: She still lets me put my mouth over her face!  Win!

 

A Report Card That Matters July 12, 2011

Filed under: Uncategorized — rabbit @ 10:24 am
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I just found the most awesome site.

…mmm, well, I guess it’s not the most awesome site.  But it’s extremely beneficial for people who want to be sure of the so-called “conscious” food products they’re buying.

The Cornucopia Institute is an organization that thoroughly researches farms and producers who claim they are organic, cage-free, grass-fed, etc.,  and observes their practices to see if they truly are.  Check out the “scorecard” section and you’ll find nationwide reports on dairy, eggs, and meat-alternatives.  Each individual scorecard is easy to read, and you get to see what the criteria was (a lot of which I talked about in my Hypothetical Arguments), as well as to what extent it was met.  You will be surprised at which brands fell far below expectations…

 

My Hypothetical Argument. Part III June 29, 2011

Filed under: Uncategorized — rabbit @ 9:31 am
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Health issues, check.  Environment, check.

And now, perhaps my favorite argument for reducing one’s consumption of meat, and my primary personal reason for remaining vegetarian.

To put it bluntly, do you support slavery?

No one will answer “yes” to this question except the sexual sadist (and we all know that’s a different kind of slavery).  But the truth is that, though we obviously don’t condone or like slavery, we are supporting it financially, through the food we eat.

In factory farming, there is no actual farm, just a factory.  And whether the factory produces eggs, poultry, dairy, beef, or pork, the quality of life for these animals is just non-existent.  To start, the animals are rarely given any space.  Hens are pent up in cages that don’t allow them to stretch their wings or legs.  Sows (female pigs) are kept in crates too tight to even turn around in or lie down comfortably.  The animals are unable to behave as they naturally would.  On a real farm, chickens would roam about in the grass, pecking away for insects, taking dust baths, and building nests when they’re ready to lay eggs.  In the factory, where all they have are the small wire cages, they exhibit behaviors of frustration, like pushing and pecking at each other.  Similarly, pigs will turn to tail-biting.  To “alleviate” the problem of these anxious behaviors, pigs and cows will have their tails cut off (sans anesthesia), turkeys lose ends of their toes, and chickens will lose a portion of their beak.  (And for anyone who thinks a beak is all bone and it must not hurt too much, that’s not the case; just like your mouth has nerves, so does a bird’s).

The “living” spaces these animals receive not only induce anxiety, they cause, directly or indirectly, a ridiculous number of maladies and deaths.  Chickens lose feathers and damage their skin from rubbing against the cages, or get their heads caught and die.  Because pigs have no room to move around and exercise, they become obese, causing damage to their legs.  Hoof disorders are all too common in cows because they spend so much time on concrete floor instead of outside in the grass where they’re supposed to be.  During the latter part of their lives, beef cattle are crowded into feedlots; there, the manure builds up and the air is filled with bacteria, leaving them vulnerable to respiratory infections (not just the case with cows, but other animals as well).  Pigs that are being fattened for slaughter are packed into warehouses that are swimming with excrement, vomit, and often other dead pigs.  With so much disease in the air, their immune systems are severely compromised.  And the antibiotics they’re given only make them weaker against illness.  (And we’re supposed to eat them?)

Females, be they chickens, cows, or pigs, are viewed as production machines.  They are pumped with hormones, impregnated, and shortly after giving birth, their young are taken away, and the cycle begins again.  Their bodies become weak and depleted from having to constantly support pregnancy.  Hens often suffer from osteoporosis because they lose so much calcium to the constant egg production.  Fatty liver syndrome also occurs because the liver works in excess to produce the fat and protein in egg yolks.  Many hens finally become too weak to lay eggs and die.  Dairy cows frequently suffer from mastitis, in which their udders are infected and enlarged, due to the overuse of hormones.  They are forced to produce ten times more milk than their bodies are meant to, yet only see a fraction of their natural lifespan.  When the animals are no longer “productive” they get sent to slaughter.

And for the males, they get to enjoy a short lifetime of steroids and unnaturally rich diets.  Chickens and turkeys are genetically altered to grow ridiculously fat twice as fast, but their hearts, lungs, and legs can’t support all that extra mass.  They have difficulty walking, and are at risk for heart failure.  Beef cattle acquire an array of metabolic disorders because they’re fed so much protein and carbohydrates (like I’ve said before: cows eat GRASS, not corn and soy).  And I don’t want to touch upon foie gras, but I may as well: ducks and geese kept in tiny cages, having metal tubes forced into their throat and pumped with at least one-fourth their weight of corn and oil.  Sounds good for the liver, right?  Oh yeah, they also lose part of their bills because it would be terrible if they start pecking and injuring each other due to the anxiety caused by their conditions.

Being slaughtered while still conscious is also part of the deal.  Yes, they’re supposed to be “stunned” before being drained of their blood, or skinned or scalded.  But time is money, and such inaccuracies are trivial.  Besides, they’re just animals.  They’re just sentient beings with social systems and specific needs and habits, and the ability to feel discomfort and pain…

And this is where our money goes when we eat a steak, a pork chop, a cheese omelette.  All this and so much more, but I would develop carpal tunnel before I could finish typing out all the details.  This is not about eating animals and animal products, per se.  I believe in the food chain and that it is natural for humans to eat animals if we choose.  But because of our modern western diets, and the insane (and what I would call “unnatural”) demand for animal products, the food chain hardly exists for us anymore.  A food chain is supposed to have some kind of equilibrium, some give and take.  Now it’s just slavery: making cheap commodities out of living creatures.

I can’t say what an animal thinks or feels, as I’ve yet to have a coherent conversation with my cat (although there was that one time I swear he said “No”).  But we know animals can suffer, we know they are complex.  If Wilbur and Bessie are going to eventually become our bacon cheeseburger, don’t we owe them a nice, long life, with all the simple pleasures and necessities?  It’s not that hard.  Give them a field to graze and forage in, clean water, and shelter with plenty of hay for bedding and snacking.  They’ll take care of everything else; land will be fertilized, eggs will be laid, milk will be produced, babies will be born and cared for by their mothers.  The most difficult part?  Cutting back on the Steak ‘n Shake; supporting the farmers who don’t cut off their chickens’ beaks and confine them to tiny cages; learning not to take animal-derived food for granted.  As long as we think of a piece of meat as just thata piece of meat— the industry will take the liberty of putting anything in front of us, at any means, because they know we’ll eat it if we don’t know any better.  If it’s all about supply and demand, we should demand food that is clean, natural and doesn’t have a dark past.  Dinner should come from the land, not a factory.

To read more about animal welfare and other factory farming issues, go here.  Just don’t read before bedtime…

 

My Hypothetical Argument. Part II June 20, 2011

Filed under: Uncategorized — rabbit @ 10:56 am
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So back to Steakerella and her predicament with cutting down on the red meat.  My first point was overall personal health.  You gotta be a little selfish with your health, right?  I mean, what good are you to others if you’re just in no good shape?  So I can’t understand why some people, despite knowing better, will neglect their health.  But I ain’t no psychologist.

Maybe we should look away from personal health, look at something that has an effect on everyone.

First off, when we see steak on the plate, we actually have very little context for it.  We’re unaware of how it got there, where it came from.  Then if we think about it, we may picture a field of cows or bulls, doin’ their thang, chewin’ their cud, and playing poker.  Alright, maybe nix the poker, but you see what I’m saying.

Then again, nix the field.  How about a gated vicinity of cows, with barely inches to move.  Hoards of them.  They’re standing around in their own waste.  The air is heavy with the stench of manure, disease, artificial hormones, antibiotics, and chemicals, which are used to combat the filth.  It’s dangerous just to stand by and breath.  And it all permeates the ground, gets into the water, even the steak on the plate.  Sure, the manure can be used as fertilizer.  Problem is, there’s so much of it (about 500 million tons a year) that the amount that’s applied often exceeds the soil’s ability to use it up.  So then it seeps into groundwater, streams, residential drinking sources, etc.  Cheers.  Then, as the truck that transports the cattle (or carcasses) burns up fossil fuels, it passes by the ever-growing “lagoon” where a slurry of farm waste resides.  The slurry is a concoction of what the animals produce, as well as the aforementioned hormones, antibiotics, pesticides, etc.  First, the slurry will release noxious gasses into the air and contribute to acid rain, as well as pollute the the surrounding earth and water.  Then, it will be used to fertilize the corn and soy that is grown strictly for feeding cows, chickens, and pigs.  And then we are supposed to eat those cows, chickens, and pigs.  Circle of life!

That’s factory farming, folks.  To keep up with the demand for meat and other animal products, the agriculture system has mutated into something far from organic or real.  In turn, it’s pretty much killing the little ecosystem we have left, as well as poisoning our food.  Natural habitats like the Amazon are slowly disappearing to accommodate factory farming.  And much of the earth’s water is used towards it as well.  Either that, or it’s as polluted as a filet mignon.  More than two thirds of the earth is dedicated to livestock and genetically modified crops for feeding that livestock, even though the livestock would never eat that stuff in nature.  Cows eat grass, not corn and soy.  But growing feed crop is cheaper and faster than the natural way.  And it certainly doesn’t matter that antibiotics, genetic modification and pesticides are encouraging the growth of resistant bacteria and cancer.

Bottom line.  The insanely excessive consumption of meat and the efforts to sustain it have contributed to: air pollution, water pollution, loss of natural habitats, and food that’s tainted with hormones/antibiotics/bacterial disease…  The earth can’t keep up with this.  When we choose to eat excessive amounts of meat (or poultry, eggs, dairy), the same thing that happens to our bodies happens to the land and water.  Natural balances and cycles are thrown out of whack.  Good organisms that perpetuate growth and health disappear, and the bad ones take over.  Things become sick and die.  The difference is that humans adapt way more quickly than the environment.  We can figure out how to deal with illness in a snap, even if it’s not good for us in the long run.  But it takes a hell of a lot longer for a forest to grow, or a river to run clean again.

Even if you don’t care about your own health, isn’t it kind of a big deal for future generations to have clean land, air and water?  Or to eat food that’s not contaminated?  Food is not just food these days.  Food has consequences.  I know it’s not easily reversible, but it’s not a lost cause.  The farmers who are doing things right– raising livestock naturally, avoiding hormones, antibiotics and pesticides, working in sync with nature to perpetuate organic cycles– they need to be supported.  I think it’s totally worth it to track down sources that sell pasture-raised animal products.  And yes, they will be more expensive.  But not only are you paying for something that’s healthier and tastes better, you’re paying for sustainability.  And yes, you will probably have to cut back your consumption of these foods due to the cost.  But that’s what I was getting at anyway…

Here, I’ll make it easier for you to track down a sustainable burger.

Also, if you’d like to see my sources for this information, and read up further, here you go.