Sunday, September 7, 2008

unconventional conventions...

At the RNC in St. Paul last week

I found this old blog that I never sent out. Got busy, I guess. But I figure I might as well publish it now. Only 1 1/2 more days until the election...cross your fingers people!!! It's going to be an amazing night! Who else is planning on taking Wednesday off work?

I was very fortunate to be able to attend the Democratic National Convention in Denver last week. Through a series of luck, more luck and some very close connections, I got a free ticket both to Denver and into the Stadium to hear Obama's speech.

To say it simply, I make a very bad democrat. I think some Dems would like it if I didn't affiliate with them. Not sure why, really. It's just that most Democrats I know are more like liberal republicans. There are very little differences between party's these days. Saying that I'm liberal would be an understatement. I support women's rights to safe abortions, I support open borders, our right to marry whoever we want, hate the war, love the poor, think the rich should share their money, love community organizing, support collective communities, I'd rather bike or walk than drive (even though I rarely's the idea that counts, right?), love the trees, polar bears and baby seals ;) I think you get the picture.

I know that I have friends and family on all ends of the spectrum on these issues, and I love each and every one of you! I appreciate that I'm constantly challenged to defend my beliefs, re-think some of my views (but most of you know I rarely change my mind!!). I've heard many suggest that those who share my views hate this country...and we're unpatriotic. You know, I've struggled to come to an opinion about how to respond. How can I prove or convince someone of the motives behind my beliefs? What I do know is that my parents came to this country because they believed that there was something greater here that they could have, be a part of, that didn't exist in their country. Something about freedoms...of liberties, pursuits of happiness, peace.

What most people have forgotten, or never realized, is that this country was founded on the principal of fighting for justice, serious activism and protest to obtain those liberties we have today. If it wasn't for organizers, unions, dissent, protest, and many, many committed individuals to fight for justice for the poor, the oppressed, then we would be a very different country. But this struggle comes at a large price.

As I've witnessed both in the streets a few weeks ago and in Indy media coverage, our right to protest and pea
cefully assemble is seen as a greater and greater threat to our government. There has developed over the years a growing frustration with the status quo, the rising divide between rich and poor, privileged and poor, and class struggles.

I thought I'd share some photos and video from both the RNC and DNC this summer. Not my pictures, but good ones...

At the RNC in St. Paul September 2, 2008...what the heck are they afraid of?

Summer basil...

I love basil. There isn't an herb that brings me back to my childhood like basil. Running my fingers through the leaves in my dad's garden, eating it straight from the garden, smelling it on my clothes as brush by the plant. Now I have 5 basil plants and I'm busy finding creative ways to eat and cook with it.

Besides the traditional recipes (like adding it to everything), one of my favorite things to make is pesto. My mom has satisfied my pesto addiction in the past by gifting me little baggies with pesto paste; enough to last an entire year. But now, I have my own garden full of the tiny green leaves. Here's a good recipe for pesto that I use. It's the one that my mom uses. The nice thing with this is that you it stores well. Just put them in little baggies and freeze them, or put in a jar and cover with olive oil to keep the paste wet.

4 Tbs. pine nuts (+/-)
2 garlic cloves (I love garlic, so I add alot more)
2 or 3 cups of firmly packed basil leaves
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil. Add more, as needed.
1 cup of fresh, grated Parmesan-Reggiano cheese
some salt

Combine pine nuts and garlic in food processor. Chop coarsely. Add half of the basil. Chop coarsely. Add the rest of the basil, olive oil and process until thick, green paste forms. If the sauce is too thin, add more basil; too thick, add more olive oil. Add the cheese and process again for a few seconds.

I'm already set for most of the fall and if anyone wants some, just give me a call! Another delicious recipe is for Basil-Lemonade!! Really, it's that delicious. It also tastes really good over ice and rum (or other favorite drink). I've made this with fresh lemons off my neighbors trees, but you can just go out and buy the'll need about 12 of them, if you double the recipe.

Basil Lemonade

2 cups basil lemon syrup (recipe below)
2 cups cold water
2 cups ice cubes
1 ¼ cups fresh lemon juice

Stir together all ingredients in a large pitcher or bowl. Pour into tall glasses half-filled with ice. For an alcoholic version (which I recommend), add 3/4-cup vodka to the mix before serving.

Makes about 6 drinks.

Basil Lemon Syrup

2 cups water
1 cup granulated sugar
4 (4- by 1-inch) strips lemon zest (I left these out)
2 cups packed fresh basil sprigs

In a medium saucepan, combine the water, sugar, and zest. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring until the sugar is dissolved. Remove from the heat, add the basil, stir to combine, and let stand at room temperature, covered, for 1 hour. Transfer the mixture to a medium bowl and chill until cold, about 1 hour. Strain the syrup through a sieve into an airtight container, pressing hard on and then discarding the solids.