Saturday, April 26, 2008

Barefoot Contessa Night

Last Saturday, we held the first semi-bi-annual Ina Garten night. Ina Garten is one of the fantastic cooks of the Food Network, and like Julia Childs, her philosophy seems to be: if it doesn't have at least a pound of butter or an udder of cream it's not worth eating. She makes fantastic food!

Here's who came:

We each made a dish or two using only her recipes and came up with this:

And the desserts were three:

An amazing strawberry cheesecake from escratch:

Broiled berry custard:

And peach raspberry cobbler (I don't know how I forgot to take a picture of that... they were all sitting right next to each other)

If I am ever wealthy, I will live in a small house with a big yard, I'll drive an old car, I'll wear my clothes threadbare and spend all of my money on really good food.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Walk quietly... carry a big stick

Or maybe just carry a big stick...

A ship full of munitions sent from China to Zimbabwe recently landed in South Africa to unload. This article explains a little bit about it. At first the dock workers refused to unload the vessel, but have now been forced, it seems.

I don't really know what's happening, but it seems like the lesson is: if you lose a contest, beat up all of your opponents.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Life isn't fair

I normally try to post only once in a week, but I feel like writing about this today. I think it's really important:

I cut my finger.

I have a cut on the end of my right index finger and it's bugging me like crazy. Even right now, I have to write this post without it because it stings whenever I put any pressure on it. It makes life really rough... playing the piano is harder, I bump it on things and it hurts... cutting the fresh pineapple open yesterday really stung. It's just very annoying. Life can be so hard sometimes.

And then, this morning I read from Sokwanele's "This is Zimbabwe" blog - a blog maintained by a small opposition group in Zimbabwe. Three weeks ago Zimbabwe held combined parliamentary and presidential elections -- and the results have still not been released. The current president, Robert Mugabe (Bob), has been in power since Zimbabwe gained independence in 1980. At first he did great things for the country, but he liked power so much that he stayed as president at all costs -- and ruined the country. Right now, he is doing everything he can (both legally and illegally) to maintain his rule, and it makes me sad.

Currently Zimbabwe suffers from about 150,000% inflation. This means a dollar today is worth 20 cents tomorrow. Two days from now that dollar is worth 4 cents. Three days, and your dollar is worth less than a cent. Money is basically useless. And it's useless in two dimensions: 1) it doesn't hold value and 2) there's no food to buy.

And somehow, people keep on going.

Whenever I talk about Zimbabwe, most people think I'm just telling "another mission story." Returned missionaries immediately revert to the "yes, but let me tell you about my mission" mode. Those who haven't served acquire a glazed look and start looking for an escape. I've begun to just stop talking about it... as it never promotes dialogue, only back and forth monologue.

But for me... it's hard to believe that I live the kind of life I live while others live such completely different lives. I cut my finger this week, but take a look at this (it is graphic... don't look at it if you are squeamish). This man was beaten for supporting those who oppose the president.

Today, I woke up late, took a warm shower, went to school, bought some yoghurt-covered pretzels and a caramel-pecan myrtle with my plastic card. Then I sauntered home enjoying the beautiful weather. I cooked some hash browns, sausage, ham and eggs for lunch, then took my car (I'm 23 and I have access to a vehicle and the means to pay for gas) to get it inspected. And I didn't have to bribe the people that inspected it! I stopped by the intramural fields and flew my kites whilst laying on the grass. Then I grabbed a Jamba juice and came back here.

I have never in my life (you are probably the same) gone hungry without choosing to do so. I've often wondered what it would be like to be hungry and not have any hope for quenching the hunger. I've never had to worry about being beaten up by the government (that sounds kind of silly to think that the U.S. government would send people just to beat me up). I have carpet! I have toys... I have free time... I have a mom and dad... I'm not sick

I feel like shouting, "LIFE ISN'T FAIR!" Why do I get all this and someone else, right now, is being beaten to death? Why do I get to worry about how to best invest my money, while someone else has to worry about finding raw grain so that they can eat some mush? Why do I spend my time thinking of creative or fun dates while others spend time thinking of ways to get home at night?

The biggest question I'd like to answer is, "Given the disparity, what can I do to help?" I know I can't fix it... but I'd sure like to get to the other side and feel comfortable sitting next to those who had a much worse time here.

Thanks for the indulgence.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Okay, a pound

On Thursday morning, I got a hankerin' for some chocolate covered pretzels. When I told the candy counter (she who counts the candy, not that which displays the candy) what I wanted, she asked me, "How much?" I stammered for a second... I mean... I'm not really that familiar with the pounds to pretzels ratio. Sensing my dilemma, she grabbed a bag and said, "This is a pound." Gratefully, I said, "Okay, I'll have a pound then." (Here's Mikey and Todd sharing in the spoils)

As I was paying, she felt to explain (or maybe I asked) why they carry pre-weighed bags of their stuff: Women's conference is coming up, and all the ladies feel like they have to have a pound of this chocolate and a pound of that... just to help the fudge go down.

So, I'm taking upon myself the assignment to photograph the candy counter during women's conference... last year it was a complete mess.

And here's a picture I took this last week. I feel like it needs some words written on it... what should it say?

Monday, April 7, 2008

Hare Finals

As finals approach, I think it prudent to remind everyone to get their tests done early. This is what happened last year on the last day of finals: (I recommend watching from at least 2 feet away with squinting eyes -- otherwise you might get sick. And... as all good home videos should, this video comes with an out-of-place sound track just to keep you watching)

And here's a few pictures from Holi, the Festival of Colors celebration at the Hare Krishna temple in Spanish Fork. Todd has all of the pictures I took on the MyFace if you wanna take a gander there -- I've not included all of the best ones here.

My mom doesn't like this picture:

Taken off the edge of the temple balcony

After the carnage. I think I like best the two girls on the right, who were very eager to join the picture:

Why, yes, I am really light:

Disease sets in:

Posing like... Egyptians? in front of the temple before the fray:

Todd building up the courage to ask Holika on a date:

A few seconds into the throwing of color. I'm so glad I wrapped my camera in a plastic bag: