Saturday, March 31, 2012

When in doubt, cook

I feel like I've been going through a crisis of conscience.  That's way too grand for anything that happens to me, but it's the best way to describe the shift that's been happening- seemingly underneath me- and the angst I've been feeling over it.  Plus, I'm not entirely sure what brought this about.

As with the origins of so many other things, does it matter?  The upshot of where I am is that I have less time on the computer, less time to read and less time to get upset about politics.  Which doesn't mean that my local politicians aren't likely to think I'm a pain in the neck, but does mean that I'm feeling less of a need to get on a social media site and go on about what a jerk some national or international politician was.  And while I am incensed about the murder of an African-American teenager- younger than my daughter, and "armed" with things all of my children have been known to ask me to buy- that's saddened me to the point that I don't know what to say.  The people I talk to on a regular basis agree that it was a travesty of justice- that phrase is the best I can think of, but it's not enough- and the people who disagree I don't want to engage with right now.  I don't know what I could say that wouldn't be pure disgust.

Well, while Europe and Greece play Will They Or Won't They, the GOP tries to bring us back to 1992, everyone gets wound up like a toy over Iran and nothing is done to help Syria, I'm going to do what I do best: cook.

On the upper right hand side of the blog (for now, at least), you will find recipes I've adapted and/or developed of some of my old favorites to be both vegan and gluten-free.  You will notice that they are just about all dessert items.  People, it's gotten to the point that my family has begged me not to make any more desserts for a little while- and not because they don't like them.  The savory item- crepes- got out of hand too.  I am the one asking my family to stop me from making them, because there is almost nothing that you can't put in a crepe.

I've got long, winding narratives behind each recipe, but on page 3 of my first draft of the crepe recipe, I thought, "you know, maybe people don't want to work this hard to find out how to make food."  So now the recipes pretty much stand for themselves.  I think they do fine.

I still owe some people on Twitter my cannoli recipe, but I want to make sure that's as reproducable as the others before I put that out there.  I should probably add a ganache and pastry cream recipe soon, but I think these should hold people until then.

Vegan Chocolate Fudge
Vegan Gluten-Free Cake
Vegan Gluten-Free Profiteroles (aka Choux Paste)
Vegan Gluten-Free Pancakes
Vegan Gluten-Free Crepes

Bon appetit, happy veganing and enjoy,

Deb in the City

PS In case you were wondering, I've managed to not make a dessert for about four days.  Granted, I was sick for two of those days, but on the other two I actually made a lot of delicious savory foods.  I don't know if their special or original enough to publish a recipe, but I've been having fun.  I mean, how can I not with mango salsa and tostones?  It's all good.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Petty cruelty on a beautiful Sunday afternoon

My children arrived back in Boston on Saturday night.  They were keyed up so they didn't get to sleep until late (and neither did we).  The boys and I woke up relatively late on Sunday but I still felt as if I might be hallucinating.  Still, it was an unseasonably, disturbingly beautiful March day in Boston, so I insisted on taking them out.

We started walking around Northeastern and ended up at Tadpole Playground at the Boston Common, one of our favorite haunts.  I had expected quite a few people, but I was still shocked at how packed it was.  I did find a free bench before I sent the boys for some mandatory play and running around.

I was all set to read my stupid little magazine and make some notes, but something caught my attention.  I was right in front of one of the slides and there was a bottleneck.  Some parents were clearly irritated and yelling instructions to their children.  The culprit was a little Asian boy.  Only he wasn't that little.  He must have been around seven or eight, older than most children who sit at the top of a slide while other children are waiting their turn.

Something wasn't right.

One of the parents walked up the slide, helped her child, then came down to scold the mother of the child on the slide.  For God's sake, is waiting to use the slide such a big deal?  It's not an automatic by any means, but many of the parents who come to use that playground don't speak English.  I'm pretty sure the other mother knew this, but she felt the need to scold the mother anyway.

But something else was bothering me.  The affect of the child was all wrong.  He smiled, but he seemed to look into space.  He seemed to have an understanding that he was being naughty or mischievous, but he didn't seem to understand how upset everyone around him was.  It wasn't that he didn't care, it was that he didn't get it.  He also didn't say one word during the entire episode.

I am guessing that the child was on the autism spectrum.  I have a younger sister who is autistic, and I know how hard it is to go out with her.  It was harder when she was a hyperactive little girl.  Everything is so hard and unpredictable, and being yelled at by other people who don't get it- or don't care- doesn't do anything to help.

I called my sons over to me and asked them to help the boy down, if they could.  Simon set off, but by the time he got to the top of the slide, the child had slid down only to run right back up two seconds later.  When the little boy did finally stop, he ran over to my bench and curled up into a little ball.  The mother was next to me, and I asked her how old he was.  "I don't speak English," she said with a smile.  I smiled back.  I hadn't thought so.  Before I could ask her anything else, the little boy tried to get into another person's stroller.  The mother said a few sharp words, then hustled him off.  And then they were gone.

I don't know what kind of services the little boy gets.  I know that it's been difficult for my mother, who is very fluent in English, to navigate the various systems in Massachusetts that provide those services; I can only imagine how difficult it must be for someone who isn't fluent in English.  It makes me sad to think about that; the right kind of intervention makes a huge difference in how well he can navigate the world when he grows up.

But what really makes me sad is the way adults acted toward someone who was clearly struggling.  I have all kinds of explanations for Afghanistan, the shootings in France and even what happened to that poor Trayvon Martin.  But I've got nothing for why people continue to be so petty and inconsiderate long after they should know better.

Deb in the City