Thursday, October 6, 2011

Half the Sky

This book was recommended to me by my dear friend Brea and has been sitting on my book shelf for about 1 year now.  Well, I finally dove in and read it and am sorry I waited so long.  This book lays "out an agenda for the world's women focusing on three particular abuses:  sex trafficking and forced prostitution; gender-based violence, including honor killings and mass rape; and maternal mortality, which still needlessly claims one woman a minute".  The hope of the authors, husband and wife, is to "recruit you to join an incipient movement to emancipate women and fight global poverty by unlocking women's power as economic catalysts". 

It's difficult to explain this book in my own words.  As heartbreaking and difficult it is to read, it's empowering and so hopeful at the sane time.  It's easy to think about injustices taking place around the world and become overwhelmed; to think it's too big of a problem.  It's even easier to ignore these injustices that are not just taking place around the world, but also within the communities in which welive.  The challenge and encouragement throughout this book is that there is SO much we can do!  It's not easy to read, but I truly hope you do, and I hope you find it educating and empowering.

Every Tuesday night for the past year I've been meeting with a great group of women from church.  It's a book club / Bible study...and a lot of fun!  At the end of each study we seek out a service project, and at the beginning of this year we bought two llamas through Heifer International.  I believe the llamas went to families in Burma.  (Please take the time to read through Heifer's website if you're not familiar with this wonderful organization). Half the Sky ended with a story that really hit home and gave me hope...

     "We'll leave you with a story that is a fine reminder of the impact we can have. The children of the Niantic Community Church in Niantic, Connecticut, bought six goats through Heifer International, as a gift for Africa. The goats are listed in the Heifer International catalog at $120 each.
     One of those goats went to the Biira family in Uganda, near the Congo border.  The goat was named luck and lived up to its name:  it promptly produced twins.  The Biira children drank the milk for a nutritional boost, and the parents sold some of the milk to raise a bit of extra income.  They had not been able to afford to send their daughter Beatrice to school, keeping her home instead to do chores.  But with the extra income from the milk, the parents decided to send the girl to the village school. 
     Beatrice was nine years old, while all the other first graders were just six.  But she worked diligently and rocketed to the top of the class.  She was such a prodigious student that she eventually won a scholarship to Uganda's best girls' school.  Finally, she became the first student from her village to go abroad to study - and in 2008 she graduated from Connecticut College.  "I am one of luckiest girls in the world," Beatrice declared at her graduation party, and she added to us: "It's all because of a goat!"  Now Beatrice is earning a graduate degree and working on a United Nations project for the millennium goals - but there are so many other girls who are left behind, for want of a goat."

Eggplant Pasta

There are two types of people...Italians, and those who wish they were (as the saying goes).  I am one of those who wish they were.  The language beautiful, the country rich with history and gorgeous architecture, and the food...oh, the love of food!  I'm proud of my English and Native American heritage, and as much as I do like 'Bangers and Mash' and salmon...I'm pretty sure I could eat a big bowl of pasta every single day.  Matt, on the other hand, thinks differently.  Although he likes pasta, he doesn't want to eat it nearly as often as I do because he doesn't want all the carbs.

This Eggplant Pasta recipe is a good compromise, and Matt likes it as much as I like a plate of whole wheat linguine with a thick tomato basil sauce.  He made it very clear that I can make this one again :)  This is a recipe from food science expert Alton Brown and comes from the Food Network Favorites: Favorites from our All-Star Chefs cookbook (it was a gift at one of my bridal showers).

What You Need: 
  • 2 medium to large eggplants
  • Salt
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic
  • 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 4 small tomatoes, seeded and chopped
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 4 tablespoons basil, chiffonade (fancy name for cut into ribbons)
  • 1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan
  • Black pepper
What You Do:
  1. Peel each eggplant, leaving 1 inch of skin unpeeled at the top and bottom.  Slice the eggplant thinly lengthwise, about 1/4 inch thick.  Evenly sprinkle each slice with salt and lay out for 30 minutes on a sheet pan fitted with a wire rack (or just place in a colander to drain in the sink for about 15 minutes like I did).  Rinse with cold water and roll in paper towels (I skipped this step and it was fine).  Slice the pieces into thin fettuccine-like strips.
  2. Heat the oil in a large saute pan over medium heat.  Add the garlic and crushed red pepper flakes, and cook until garlic is lightly golden and aromatic.  Add the eggplant "pasta" and toss to coat (it will seem like a lot, but it cooks down, so use all the eggplant).  Add the tomatoes and cook for 3 minutes.  Add the cream and increase heat to thicken sauce. 
  3. Finally, add the basil and Parmesan and toss to combine.  Season with black pepper to taste, but no salt, as the eggplant will already be salty (I added more salt, because it tasted like it needed it to me).


Sunday, October 2, 2011

To every thing there is a season

Change:  to make the form, nature, content, future course, etc., of something different from what it is or from what it would be if left alone. 

Change is a powerful, emotional thing.  Change can be intimidating and terrifying, and can also evoke an electrifying excitement that's difficult to contain.  Our entire lives are full of change, whether or not it's welcomed. We can spend years planning for a change, or roll with the punches when change catches us by surprise.  Looking back at my previous 29 years, I see a ball of yarn full of changes that has led me to where I am today.  Holding this ball of yarn in my hands looks like a big confusing mess, but when I take the time to unravel it, there is one straight line from A to B and it all makes sense.  I am thankful for the changes of my past, and am looking forward to what the future brings.  I am on the brink of a new season, of yet another one of life's changes...ready, waiting, praying. 

"There is no growth without change."
- Rick Warren

"To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven."
- Ecclesiastes 3:1