On Adoptions: Beet & Poppy Seed Pound Cake

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

-A pretty pink poppy seed and beet cake perfect for a family.-

I don’t talk much about my day job on the blog because I generally try to keep the two worlds separate. In addition, I don't want to be seen as speaking on behalf of my day job (and within this post I am still not). There’s no reason one should affect the other and I find that my life is simply cleaner and easier to organize when certain things are properly compartmentalized. (This is, in fact, my general life strategy and so far it seems to be working out for me).

For those of you who don’t know – and I surmise that’s almost all of you – I work in social work during the day. I started by accidentally falling into a position at a group home and school for children. It was a Level 14 Living Facility, which is California’s sterile and woefully accurate clinical term for One Step Below an Asylum. It was a place where the kids were sweet, but if one of them had a blowout and decided to strip down naked before climbing to the roof of the nearby post office before throwing roofing tiles at nearby police who are attempting to coax him down, well, that was a Tuesday for me. It was a controlled environment for round the clock therapeutic care.

Most of these kids were here because of mental problems brought on by years of abuse of many kinds. They were the extreme and a reminder that no one in the world is born troubled or bad, but because of the situations they've often been placed in.

After that I moved on to working as an office manager at a different a site where we focused more on child and family therapy. Eventually I left that and moved into a stint as an assistant pastry chef before going back to a world where I didn't burn myself as often and could use health benefits when I did. Currently, I do administrative work that also includes working with children directly for a non-profit whose primary goal is placing children in the foster care system with adoptive permanent families.

-So there’s the quick and dirty of it.-

I no longer do intensive treatment of any kind with kids because I find I’m rather as emotionally equipped to deal with these things as much as a pack of wild dingoes are properly equipped to run a day care. Usually, I find myself rather stupefied and break down in fits of crying or rage out at how God/the world/people/whathaveyou could allow some adults to raise – a word I use very liberally in this case – children.

Now, I don’t have children. In fact, I don’t plan to anytime soon. FiancĂ© and I have discussed the topic and as far as we see it we’re going to wait about ten years and then look into adopting a child between the ages of four and ten.

Self Respect: Shirred Eggs with Sun Dried Tomato Pesto

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

-Ladies, brace yourselves.-

So longest post ever followed by the shortest post ever. I was at the market today buying some eggs for a cake I wanted to make for a potluck.

All and all, this was an in and out trip. Go in. Grab eggs. Buy eggs. Leave. It was a mission of practical pinpoint accuracy that I fashioned after watching far too many military movies and dating a lot of military personnel.

So in I go and I get to the eggs without any incident. As I pick one up a lady and her little girl around twelve are going through carton after carton looking for perfect eggs and - I kid you not - assembling a new one. When she found an egg she liked, one that was obviously superior to one of the eggs in the carton she was holding, she would switch it with the worst egg in her dozen.

Lord know what the qualifications were. They all looked exactly the same, but maybe I'm just a layman when it comes to egg analysis.

-Insert any obvious joke about the sexes and eggs here.-

Speaking of eggs. Here's a snippet of the conversation they were in the middle of:

Child: "So, mom, if those people are making all those decisions shouldn't there be girls helping make them? All the people they showed on the news were men."

Mom: "Yes, well, sometimes women make very bad choices and men need to make them instead. Women can be very emotional and men are more rational."

Me in my Head: "Oh f***, no, she didn't."

The Argument for Same-Sex Marriage: Kiwi-Gin Cocktail

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

-So this is the longest post ever. You may want to make the cocktail recipe at the end of the post before actually reading this.-

So if you aren’t keeping up with things here in California and at Vanilla Garlic Headquarters let me keep you up to speed. Proposition 8, the voter-approved law that banned gay marriage in California months after the state Supreme Court made it legal and after 18,000 gay and lesbian couples had already hitched their trolleys, was recently dubbed by the 9th Circuit Appeals Court as unconstitutional.

This, however, does not mean that same sex couples can now get married. A stay is in place as the proponents of Prop 8 figure out whether to go back and seek a larger appeal from the 9th Circuit or go directly to the Supreme Court (who may choose not to even hear it).

I, as you may or may not know, am getting married in August.

You can say I have a vested interest in the subject.

I’m obviously very happy for the win and am writing this a few days after the 2-1 decision was announced. I'm also finally in a place where I’ve calmed down a bit and can bathe in the glow of social justice and bask in the fact that things seem to be going the right way – at least as I see it. Little steps is progress and all that positive whatnot.

Ah, but you may be wondering why I needed to calm down. It wasn't from joy but from anger and frustration. What I’ve been pissed about is how the decision brought all these angry people out of the woodwork. They came out in droves, frothing at the mouths and pulsating with rage. They declared judicial overreach and shrieked about activist judges. (Strange how they’re only activists when they don’t rule in your favor.)

Normally, I stay out of it all. Especially the internet arguments. You can't hear who wins over the din of a pack of shrieking banshees, if, indeed, anyone CAN win.
-Even worse is that I didn't win.-

Yet, all this anger and fervor… it’s hard to deal with when it is directed squarely at you. This whole Prop 8 thing is extremely personal. For gays and lesbians far more than anyone else, even the Prop 8 Proponents because it is a law that directly affects me, my life, my partner’s life, and the lives of many people we know.

I spent way too much time arguing on the Internet the last few days with, well, nothing to show for it but emotional exhaustion. All it affirmed was that some people don’t like the idea of gay marriage and no matter what I say they never will.

Still, I want to make my arguments. I need to just put them out there. This is a self serving post. There is little talk about food here. Yes, a bit at the end and a rather lovely recipe should you want to skip along to the end and give that a look. It's a rather lovely cocktail using gin and kiwis and it kicks quite a bit of ass if I do say so myself.

No worries on going straight to it. I wouldn't blame you as just writing this I want a sip. This is a food blog and food is what you came for and not my soap boxing (or, at least, not this much of it). I understand.

TL;DR and all that.

Years of culling my readership have ensured that probably 99% of my readership is pro gay marriage. If you aren’t then I hope you’ll read this anyways and hear my side of it. I’ll do my best not to offend but in a subject like this that’s so politically charged that’s easier said than done on both sides. I will delete angry, snide, and wrathful comments; and will allow civil ones from both sides. After all, this blog is my home and I expect everyone to behave in my home. My house. My rules.

I also have never asked this but if you like this post I encourage you to share it with people who agree and especially with people who don't agree. I'm hoping that just maybe I can convince someone to this side of the argument (sarcasm in this post aside).

Let’s begin…

Careers: Orange and Poppy Seed Pancakes

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

-Is pancake maker a legitimate career choice? It should be if it isn't.-

When I was a child I knew that I was going to grow up to be a world famous brain surgeon. Or Cyclops from the X-Men. I considered both to be exceptional career paths. Regardless, it was plain to say that my aspirations were loftier than the attic in my mother’s house.

With time my ambitions changed. I had the grades, handgun accuracy (thank you afternoons at the range with dad), and language skills to become an FBI officer and so for a while I dallied with that idea with a small nod of inspiration from the morose and comely David Duchovny. However, a realization that putting me in a place where I could legally start knocking mothef***ers out probably wouldn’t benefit anyone, least of all myself.

The brain surgeon idea persisted through all of middle school and the early years of high school. I enjoyed human anatomy and the concept of medicine, but my heart didn’t seem in it. This stemmed in whole from the fact that while I was fine looking at the pulsing meats of a human being, the fact that a broken nail or wiggling baby tooth icked me out seemed a portend eventual problems in the surgical field.

In the end that dream, like my dream of shooting concussive blasts of energy from my eyes in order to protect humanity, was put aside.

-With my penchant for clumsiness it was probably for the best. (Both in regards to medicine and concussive eye beams.)-

Instead, I found myself rather engrossed in marine biology. I took a special class in high school on the subject that culminated in week long trip aboard a research ship off the coast of Catalina. I was fascinated by the inner working of starfish and read up on how book gills functioned. I was engrossed by the biolumiscent organisms that sparked in the toilet when you flushed it on the ship (it flushed with local saltwater) and perused the ship’s library for more information on the chemical processes that made it happen.

Eventually, I dragged my mom with me to a scuba class where we were both, after some tribulation due to some asshole having a panic attack 40 feet underwater during my scuba final and ripping off both breathing regulators from my air tank (and this only an hour after someone stole my wetsuit and left me wearing one three sizes too small), certified. My mom used new talents of ours both as a means of adventure for herself and as a way to encourage me to pursue a possible career. Of course, entrenching yourself in the center of a 60-foot tall funnel of swirling purple fish off the coast of Nevis certainly possess a rather memorable aesthetic of its own.

I began to apply to colleges under a double major of Marine Biology and Genetics. While U.C. Santa Barbara, my first choice due to it’s Marine program, turned me down. U.C. Davis with it’s rather world renowned genetics laboratory, did. With time I began to lean more towards genetics.

I blame an instance where I was meeting with a professor who let me use an electron microscope to look at a strand of recombinant salmon DNA in its raw form. Let me tell you, actually looking at the raw structure of life, the very various chemical bonds and the elements that make them strung together by such primordial but world-making forces that can’t be seen by the unaided eye, well, it has an impact on you.

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