Kamala Harris is Biden's choice for Vice President!
Yesterday, Joe Biden finally announced Kamala Harris as his choice for VP in the coming national election for President of the United States. In celebration of Kamala, I decided to cook up some blueberry yogurt multigrain pancakes. For a double hit of fruit, try making cooking the kitchen's recipe for rhubarb compote, and use it as a topping.
If you find that you too want to celebrate Kamala Harris, "the first Black woman and the first person of Indian descent to be nominated for national office by a major political party (NYT Live)," try this recipe, and enjoy. And be sure to vote in our November election!Jump to Recipe
This, that, and the other...
A contractor and his crew are repainting the top floor rental apartment in my house. The apartment was occupied these last four years by a couple who moved out and left NYC, as many young people have done in these times of covid. New tenants are moving in on August 31st. Part of me feels like I am getting too old to do this dance anymore. But the income makes ends meet, and keeps me from running through my savings. So, as Paul Williams used to sing, "Life Goes On."
Perhaps a belief that we are starting to be too old for something is how some of our elderly start to think about most things in their life. I imagine a collective of elderly people thinking and saying "I can't concentrate because I am too old, so I no longer read and cannot follow the plots of tv series or movies. I have lost my sense of taste, and no longer have an interest in cooking. I guess I am just too old to bother preparing meals for myself anymore. Nothing appeals to me and I have no appetite." In a time when we are only partially able to engage with others, we need to examine and improve how we engage with ourselves. Let's be in it for the long game, and not give up.
Covid-19 has made having workers in the house complicated. But frankly, thank goodness things have opened up enough for these people to show up and work. If this contractor did not agree to the job, I would be painting the apartment myself. Given my penchant for procrastination, I would be like the student cramming for finals after not doing any of the course readings all year (a persistent anxiety dream of mine). One could only imagine me painting all night on August 30th.
In interacting with the painting contractor I hired, I tried to set limits. I asked that he and his three workers wear masks, and wear them properly, as do I. My interactions are kept to a minimum in as safe a manner as possible. I talk with the contractor outside, or in the apartment with all the windows open. I have read about the importance open windows in enclosed spaces.
We also communicate through texts, email, and phone calls. But today I was blindsided a bit and wound up in an uncomfortable situation, of which I am still trying to make sense.
The day before the painters were to start the job, I texted a list of about eight additional tasks. Photos were included to clarify each item on the list. I would happily pay extra to have these things done for me. Need I tell you how much I hate resealing a bathtub? I followed my text by taping a printed list to the entrance door to the apartment, using blue painters' tape so it would not mark up the door. Intending to be thorough, I am probably more aptly described as being a bit compulsive.
Despite multiple assurances that all would not only be done, but done very well, the contractor wanted me to meet him upstairs and go over everything in person. I was hoping to avoid what I considered unnecessary face-time, as I had already provided a list. But it was as if we were in an arm wrestling contest, and the contractor pinned my arm. So I gave in, and went upstairs, and went over each of the tasks and how I thought they should be done (remove all the old seal before applying the new sealer around the tub). In retrospect I can understand that we all have different abilities in perceiving things. Having things pointed out and explained in person was easier for this contractor than reading them on a list.
What struck me when I walked into the apartment, as one of the workers quickly put on the mask he had not been wearing, was this. I heard the same refrain spoken to me again and again. "We are clean." This reassurance implied so much. I heard it as saying: "You are OK with us. We would not do anything to harm you. We understand the rules, and of course we follow them to keep us all safe." I must admit that I do not know if I would be so concerned, if I were not immunosuppressed because of a hematological cancer and in the 80% of being hospitalized and dying of covid if I got sick. This fact rolls around my brain at times like a bad penny mantra.
The workers in my house are immigrants. I hear their words, "we are clean," spoken as an assertion, but also, almost like a plea. I find their reassurance "we are clean," poignant and heart-breaking. Is this what the covid pandemic has done to us as a society? That each of us sees the others (outside of the pods that people are forming), as the other? And if we are seen as the other, must we plead our case, verifying "we are clean.?"
This seems to feed into the racial bias that is promoted by Trump and the GOP. The messages I hear boil down to: You are the other; you are not white; you do not belong in this country; you are not clean. We will put you and your children in cages; we will deport you; we will take away your voting rights; we will tear gas you when you exercise your rights to peacefully protest; we do not have a national policy for mitigating the covid virus and therefore we will kill you. After all, if we inadvertently kill you because we do not have any policies to protect our citizens, one less vote against our party. Punish the Blue States and reward the Red by disproportionately distributing monies in aide.
But what about our own belief system when we claim "we are clean"? In some cases this belief exhibits total ignorance by people adhering to the untruths and conspiracy theories promoted by you know who and his party (see above).
In the case of the contractor at my house, I perceive partial ignorance with a mitigating well-meaning heart. It hurt that his heart was in the right place, while his beliefs were so wrong. But the virus does not give passes for any kind of ignorance, nor well-meaning hearts. This contractor's well meaning heart was difficult to deal with. That is what made me so uncomfortable today in my interactions with him.
However, neither form of ignorance or denial should be acceptable to us as a society. We would like to believe that because things have opened up in phases, we are now allowed us to forget ourselves. We must see that in reality, covid-19 is truly a life or death matter.
The United States of America chose not to learn from the experience of other countries such as China or Italy, which were on the original front lines of suffering from the spread of this virus. Months into the pandemic, the Republican States in our own country, did not heed the lessons learned by the State of New York in battling the virus (Thank you for the good job you did, Andrew Cuomo!). We need to be educated and united in what we can do to mitigate this pandemic until there is a viable vaccine. And I do not mean the purported Russian vaccine that is only in phase one of testing, but is nonetheless already being tested on humans.
It is illogical to think that because each of us is a good person, that we are also "clean" and therefore may not inadvertently spread covid-19 to another or many individuals. Especially because of asymtomatic shedding, unreliable tests, lack of receiving testing results in a timely manner, lack of contact tracing, and no reliable statistics, we just cannot know. Bottom line: yes you are a good person. But no, your personal belief system and assertions that you are "clean," will not necessarily keep me safe. Please, protect me as I protect you and wear a mask. Let's be in this together.
Blueberry yogurt multigrain pancakes
Nothing says morning breakfast like a plateful of pancakes with maple syrup. Today's blueberry yogurt multigrain pancakes were made in celebration of Kamala Harris, Biden's VP running mate for the November 2020 election. Please be sure to vote!
- 2 large eggs
- 1 cup plain, full-fat yogurt (I used buttermilk)
- 2 to 4 tbsp milk (did not use, as I used buttermilk as above)
- 3 tbsp butter, plus extra for skillet (I used 2 tbsp olive oil; and butter for skillet)
- 1/2 tsp lemon zest
- 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
- 1/2 cup (62 grams) whole wheat flour
- 1/2 cup (68 grams) all-purpose flour (I used 1/2 cup buckwheat flour)
- 1/4 cup (32 grams) barley or rye flour (I used 1/4 cup corn meal)
- 2 tbsp sugar
- 1 tbsp + 1 tsp baking powder
- 1/2 tsp table salt
- 1 cup blueberries, rinsed and dried
Melt half of the butter. Remove from heat and stir in second tablespoon of butter until melted. This keeps your butter from being too hot when you want to add it to the wet ingredients.
Whisk egg and yogurt together in the bottom of a medium/large bowl. If you're using a thin yogurt, no need to add any milk. If you're using regular yogurt, stir in 2 tablespoons milk. Whisk in melted butter, zest and vanilla extract. In a separate, small bowl, combine flours, sugar, baking powder and salt. Stir dry ingredients into wet only until dry ingredients are moistened. A few remaining lumps are fine.
Preheat your oven to 200 degrees F and have a baking sheet ready (to keep pancakes warm). Heat your skillet or saute pan to medium. If you've got a cast-iron skillet, this is my favorite for pancakes. Melt a pat of butter in the bottom and ladle a scant 1/4 cup (about 3 tablespoons) batter at a time, leaving a space between each pancake. Press a few berries into the top of each pancake. The batter is on the thick side, so you will want to use your spoon or spatula to gently nudge it flat, or you may find that pressing down on the berries does enough to spread the batter. When the pancakes are dry around the edges and you can see bubbles forming on the top, about 3 to 4 minutes, flip them and cook for another 3 minutes, until golden underneath. (If you listen closely, after a minute you'll hear your blueberries pop and sizzle deliciously against the pan.) If pancakes begin cooking too quickly, lower the heat. Transfer pancakes to warm in the oven as they are done cooking, where you can leave them there until you're ready to serve them.
Serve in a big stack with fixings of your choice. Do not anticipate leftovers.