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We Forget We Are All The Same

I was watching Accidental Courtesy last night.  It’s a documentary about Daryl Davis, a black musician who befriends Ku Klux Klan members in his spare time.

I admired Davis for having the courage and open-heartedness to reach out to people who are determined to be his enemy because of his skin color.  Over the years, Davis has won over many white supremacists through his willingness to hear them and extend his hand in friendship.  Dozens of high-ranking former Klan members have even given Davis their robes when they left the KKK.  It was heartening to see someone succeeding at making the world a better place.

Near the end of the film, the mood shifted a bit when this peaceful, generous man was forced to defend himself by Kwame Rose of the Black Lives Matter movement.  Rose accused Davis of wasting his time with white supremacists when he could have been doing more to help his own people.  A heated exchange ensued and Rose stormed off, unwilling to listen Davis’ point of view.  It was painful to watch a young man be so disrespectful to this wonderful pacifist.  It was also difficult to see Davis lose his cool a little with Rose, when he manages to have civil dialogues with people who express deeply disturbing white supremacist views.

It seems to me that there is room for more than one approach when comes to dealing with hate and injustice.  Although, things will always break down when we stop talking to each other, deciding that our way is the only way.

Want to Save Money, Lose weight and Be Healthier? Eat Cabbage!

Until recently, whenever I thought about cabbage I would remember the unwelcome smell that permeated the hallway of my grandmother’s building in Far Rockaway, NY. It would make my nose wrinkle and I couldn’t wait to get into her apartment which always seemed to smell like fresh baked dinner rolls or something equally delicious.

So, I quite surprised myself when I picked up a head of cabbage at the farmer’s market.  I did it for two reasons: 1. I know how nutritious it is.  2.  It was only $2.  WIN, WIN!

I pondered what to do with it on the way home.  Then I surprised myself again by slapping the steering wheel and declaring out loud, “I am going to make sauerkraut!”  I have no idea where the thought came from since I never made it before and quite frankly… I never even really thought about sauerkraut being comprised of cabbage.  The same goes for coleslaw (which I also decided to make.)

How hard could it be?  It turns out, not hard at all.  It became clear after some quick research that sauerkraut is merely cabbage+salt+time.  I chopped the cabbage as thin as I could by hand, threw in a few tablespoons of kosher salt and began to massage it.  I found myself wondering how many of my German ancestors must have done the very thing I was doing at that moment.  It felt so natural working the salt into the cabbage until the juices flowed out.  After about 10 minutes, I decided I created enough of a brine to jar it up.  You want there to be enough liquid to fully submerge the kraut.  I used an onion* half to weigh it down in the jar.  After that, I topped the jar with a coffee filter and rubber band.  I found this set-up very effective for keeping the oxygen out while allowing the carbon dioxide to escape.  Then I set the jar in a dark cabinet in the basement, the only place that might come close to maintaining the ideal temperature range of 65 to 75 degrees.

How does this make sauerkraut?  The short answer is that cabbage naturally carries bacteria like lactobacilli which helps kick off lactic acid fermentation.  The salt preserves the cabbage to keep it from rotting while fermentation takes place.  There is a lot of debate about the proper amount of time to allow sauerkraut to ferment, anywhere from three days to six months.  I found the most consensus that around three weeks is enough time.  The idea is to allow the sauerkraut to ferment long enough to produce a goodly amount of probiotic bacteria. Then after that it’s just about taste.

However, if you are like me and you can’t wait that long or if the average temp is above 75 degrees then two weeks is long enough.  Also, keep in mind, the sauerkraut will continue to ferment in the fridge.  It will just happen much more slowly below 65 degrees.

BBQ beans on toast with tomato, olives, homemade kraut and a pickle... what more could you ask for?

BBQ beans on toast with tomato, olives, homemade kraut and a pickle… what more could you ask for?

I have to tell you that homemade sauerkraut is DELICIOUS!  It is so much better than store-bought. I am not sure I could eat the canned stuff ever again.  Give it a try if you like sauerkraut.  You have nothing to lose.  I paid two dollars for a head of cabbage at the farmer’s market.  (I noticed they are $1.29 at the supermarket.)  That one head netted me 16 ounces of sauerkraut and eight cups of coleslaw.  I call that VERY budget-friendly!

I will get more into the nutritional and weight loss benefits of cabbage in my next post, as well as share the coleslaw recipe I concocted.

Many Blessings,

Cynthia

*I got the onion as a weight idea from the Dr Axe website: https://draxe.com/recipe/sauerkraut-recipe/

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Tragedy, Hope and Making Sense of Racial Relations through Personal Relationships

I have shed a lot of tears over the last few days.  The deaths of Alton Sterling, Philando Castile and the five Dallas police officers: Lorne Ehrens, Michael Krol, Michael J. Smith, Brent Thomspon and Patrick Zamarippa all seemed so senseless to me.  I just can’t wrap my head around it.

It’s painful thinking about a four-year-old girl witnessing a police officer killing the man who had been a father to her, while her mother, the man’s fiancée, stoically and respectfully taped it.  Another man was shot and killed while already pinned down to the ground.  An officer who had just been married two weeks ago got gunned down while doing his job, protecting peaceful protestors of, ironically, police violence.  It’s made me very sad and I don’t even personally know any of these people.  I also have been feeling the complete overwhelm of not knowing how on earth to help make things better.

I reached out to my friend Lorna (after not having heard from me in goodness knows how long) without any “Hi, how are you?” preamble, I texted her about how I was feeling.  She responded in her usual kind, compassionate way.  I could practically hear her elegant Jamaican accent while I was reading her responses.

Me: Lorna, I’m so sad today about all the killing that has been going on this week.  I am sad for the families of the two black men who were shot by police, as well as, the families of the cops shot in Dallas.  All these precious lives lost senselessly.  I have no idea how to help make things better.

Lorna: Cindy, thanks for reaching out and I do appreciate your thoughts.  There is so much good to celebrate and I cherish you, who have the guts to see beyond color or race! Blame can be passed around but we must now stop to listen!! Violence is not the answer!!  But what is?  Thanks Cindy.  Love you much.  Smile-hope lives.

Me: I am so glad I know you.  You never made me feel like a “white” friend but just a friend.

Lorna: I loved you the day you walked into ACS, then CWA (where we both worked over 20 years ago.) White or black, you are just a great person!!

Me: Thanks! 🙂 Right back at ya! (I’m not as eloquent in real time as Lorna.)

I think good racial relations are about personal relationships.  To go a step further, it’s not about race at all; it’s about treating everyone you encounter with kindness, respect and compassion.

My friend Jodi got it right with this response to a post I had put up on social media about how helpless I felt after the tragedies of the last several days:

“Some people are “activists” but my style is to just try to live with love, acceptance & tolerance to the best of my ability. I work in a tourist town and I meet all kinds of people, from everywhere & I try to enjoy them all and make them feel welcome. I always remember the lesson I learned  when I lived out of the country for a couple of years – when you met an American – it didn’t matter their race, religion, sex, anything it was an American -and I just wanted to hug them! If we could maybe live on another planet for a while – maybe we would appreciate [each other] whenever we see another human being or earth animal. I live in hope of world peace, but sometimes when I think of the thousands of years humans have been warring and fighting each other – it’s rather discouraging. But there is always HOPE.”

Jodi’s wisdom reminds me of Lorna.  We are more alike than we are different.  When we focus on what we all have in common while respecting and eventually appreciating our differences, we can all get along and even cherish one another. “Smile – Hope lives.”

Many Blessings,

Cynthia

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Must Presidential Hopefuls Stoop To Conquer Now?

I have never liked watching political debates. I found them annoying in past elections because candidates would rarely offer straight answers and found ways to attack their opponents on issues that weren’t even relevant to the question being asked. After I watched the first GOP debate last year, I quickly became disgusted watching and, unfortunately, listening to Donald J. Trump insult not only his opponents but moderators as well.

I stopped watching the debates after that and chose instead to seek out the highlights afterward from various news sources. After reading articles and watching clips of Thursday night’s debate, it seems clear that Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz have chosen to join Trump in helping to degenerate these debates into little more than rank out sessions with the moderators acting as playground monitors. I was hard-pressed to find news content that actually focused on discussions about policies and what plans these guys would execute if they actually got into office.

What’s next? Televised “Yo Mama”-style diss sessions? Can we expect to hear things like, “Yo mama is so ugly if you became president, other countries would nuke the US, just so they don’t have to look at her.” It doesn’t seem that far-fetched compared to what these candidates are saying to and about each other. Donald J. Trump already thinks it is perfectly acceptable to refer to people as morons and losers. Marco Rubio focused a campaign speech yesterday on describing Trump getting his sweat mustache powdered during a commercial break and suggesting he may have requested a full-length mirror to “make sure his pants weren’t wet.”

I do find it somewhat ironic that Trump and Chris Christie referred to these new low blows coming from Rubio as desperate attempts to bolster a failing campaign. Considering Trump has built his entire campaign by continually showering these types of insulting remarks on his opponents, the media and anyone else he decided that he didn’t like when he had a microphone handy; what is it called in his case if not desperation? Is a lack of decorum and decency more appropriate coming from Trump because he is already a reality star?

Personally, I don’t like it coming from anyone, least of all, someone who may be the next recognized leader of the United States of America. Have we gotten so used to the horrific behavior of reality TV personalities that we not only find it acceptable but we think it is suitable and even preferred in a presidential candidate? The idea that it has somehow become necessary to stoop to Trump’s schoolyard style of attack in order to gain the attention of American citizens is utterly appalling and embarrassing.

Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton seem to be able to run lively and news-worthy campaigns without resorting to childish and nasty personal attacks. Why can’t the republicans? Donald J. Trump appears to be the reason. Perhaps it is not him so much as it is his marketing strategy. His team has tapped into an ugly little truth about our viewing habits. We want to be entertained all the time. Apparently, we are willing to sacrifice being informed for the sake of sating our inexhaustible desire to be constantly amused. Are we willing to deal with the consequences?

 


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Holy No Smoke: Why Is the Smoke Detector Going Off?

I am used to the smoke detector going off while I am cooking, particularly if I am frying something… even though nothing is burning.  I automatically grab the broom handle, hit the “silence” button and open a window.

Yesterday morning though it went off for NO detectable reason.  I was just sitting at the computer when it began blaring.  “FIRE! FIRE!” Chauncy, my Havanese, awoke from his snooze and began his panicked, “I am upset!  I am excited! I don’t know why! Help me!” keening, adding to the din.  I grabbed the handle and silenced the confused instrument; picked up Chauncy and began to check every room in the house just to make sure all was well.  It was.

As soon as I sat back down, the smoke alarm went off again.  I quickly silenced it again. Then I began searching the internet for a smoke-free reason, it could be going off. Dust!  Turns out, if dust happens to collect on your smoke detector’s sensor, it can cause it to go off.  The solution was to vacuum it gently with a brush attachment.  It was too early to find the brush attachment and I was feeling anything but gentle toward the smoke alarm at that point but I did vacuum it.  It appears to have worked.

I wanted to share this bit of info. for you to tuck away, just in case your smoke alarm goes off at 6AM, or an even ungodlier hour for no apparent reason. … You’re welcome!

Many blessings to all,

Cynthia

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