Gender Rolls

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Before proceeding, you’re about to be treated to an angry political rant followed by a tasty recipe. Go straight to the bottom for the goodness.

Tonight on my way home from work and before the president’s speech, I heard a story that set me off. It set me off because it’s a theme that seems to be emerging from the conservative party’s newfound, and near complete, power. The story itself was someone, an unknown someone, who had put up a billboard reading something to the effect of: “Real men work hard to provide for their family and real women appreciate it.”

No. Just No.

This is the narrative of an imaginary nuclear family that is intended to normalize the notion that women should be in the home. I completely reject this idea because it’s about eliminating the choice. It’s about telling dads and men everywhere that they shouldn’t be mucking about in the kitchen because that’s woman’s work, just as much as it’s telling women they need to stay the hell out of the work force and make me a sandwich.

Every time I hear someone make a crack about the husband’s inability to do this or that domestic-thingy, it makes my blood boil. It is a fact that my wife and I spent several years living that sort of arrangement. The decision was purely economic for that moment in time. I made the most money and was on target for more rapid advancement. Even then, we simply couldn’t afford daycare on our combined wages. I mean, with just two kids we were looking at $2,000 per month (this is not hyperbole, this was the damn cost) For those into such things, that’s the entire paycheck of someone making about $16.00 an hour (do the math, you’ll see I’m within a few percent). At the time, I think she was making close to $14.00? an hour, it was good money, to be sure, but not nearly enough. Not that it was much more affordable having her stay at home. Even now, we’re still deeply entrenched in the financial morass that put us into.

At the moment, we’re both working. I do fairly well, and she’s doing incredibly well considering her long absence from a regular job, not that she didn’t work while she was out. However, we’ve still got kids to manage. To make that work, I get home early enough to get the kids, and she goes in late enough to see them to school. The basic division of labor is that she gets them up, fed, and moving and I come home and get them fed, cleaned and cajole them into doing homework. It’s a partnership and it works well enough for us.

My point here is that I do the cooking at home, the infamous shackles of all routine domestic chores (although laundry, dishes, mopping and just about anything to do with cleaning is arguably a far more soulless endeavors).

So, I leave you with three things, first: “Real couples support and appreciate each other. This is a partnership, not a feudal arrangement.”

Second, before you go saying things like: “Wife to the rescue,” when it comes to anything domestic, don’t. My wife sorted out a truly fucked up toilet this weekend while I went shopping and planned dinner.

Third, after hearing this monumentally infuriating story, and thinking the word rolls over and over, I got hungry for some comfort food, so I made dessert, adjusted to be allergy friendly, from scratch, and it was awesome.

This is my grandmother’s recipe, so bear with me on this. You need to start with some basic mix which is the following:

  • 6 C. flour
  • 1 1/2 Tsp Baking Soda
  • 1 1/2 Tsp Salt
  • 3/4 C Shortening

Mix up the basic mix with your hands so that the shortening is as evenly distributed as you can make it. Store this in the fridge and use as needed. It’s a good pastry base. If I have one criticism of this dough is that it’s not sweet so there’s a bit of a weird contrast between the dough and whatever filling you’re using. You might add a tsp or so of sugar for each cup of Basic mix used for sweet deserts to sweeten it up a bit and bring down that contrast.

Pastry:

  • 2 1/4 C. Basic Mix
  • 3/4 C. Cashew Milk
  • 3/4 Tbsp Lemon Juice

Filling:

  • 1/2 C Brown Sugar
  • 2 Tbsp Melted butter
  • 1 Tsp Cinnamon
  • Dash Cardamom
  • 1/4 C. Walnuts (grind these up to pretty fine bits)

Preheat the oven to 425F. Roll out the dough into 18″x4″ sheet and spread out the filling. Roll up and slice into pieces about 1″ thick. Put into a 9″ greased cake-tin. Bake for 12-18m or until brown.

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Super awesome Steak and Potatoes

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A few years ago, which my belt insists was far too long ago, my family staged an intervention on my blood-pressure and Cholesterol. For a good long while after that, I exercised a lot and cut 90% of the red meat out of my diet. Hell, I cut out 100% of beer and even got close to being able to run a half-marathon. It was awesome. I felt good, my clothes fit nicely and I had lots of energy. Of course, what I didn’t have was much time. Fast forward to today, I killed my gym membership because I couldn’t make time to get down there and am struggling to get my ass out of the chair and, if nothing else, keep my weight from getting even worse.

The one change I made that I’m holding pretty well too is the near complete elimination of red meats and far more careful intake of unhealthy foods. I’ve been slipping on he unhealthy food front, but I’m holding firm on red-meat. Of course, this is super easy to do when I walk into the grocery store and peruse the meat section. I just can’t justify spending $20 for a meal of red meat. I mean, hell, who can afford that shit? (If you happen to be one of those people, I don’t want to hear it.)

Anyhow, when we do eat steak, I generally don’t, except for Christmas dinner, in which I eat a 4oz portion. I even get turkey burger when we grill in the summer. It’s seems pretty unfair for my family to have to adhere to the same standards of food intake because they don’t have problems with high-blood pressure. That’s sort of a ‘me’ issue. A good work around thus far that minimizes my intake of red-meat, reduces the cost of red, meat AND gets my family a tasty steak and potatoes meal, PLUS (and this is the real bonus) It’s a one pan meal ONE PAN. One pan means less dishes, which, you know, my wife gets stuck with most of the time, but you know, I’m looking out for her too.

What you need:

  • 4-8 Potatoes, depending on size. I like the smaller Yukon gold, you’ll want to use upward of 8 of them.
  • 1 – 1 ¼lb Steak chopped into cubes
  • 2 Tbsp fresh Parsley
  • ½ Large yellow onion, diced
  • ¼ tsp dill weed
  • 4Tbsp olive oil (or 2 Tbsp olive oil 2Tbsp lard)
  • 1/2Tsp Salt
  • Pepper to taste
  • 2Tsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/8 C. Red wine
  • 1 12-oz bottle Stout beer
  • 1 8oz package sliced mushrooms
  • Montreal steak seasoning (it’s got salt, pepper, dill seeds, and some other stuff in it.)

Directions

Rub the Montreal steak seasoning into the diced meat and brown in a well-seasoned 14” iron skillet with 2 Tbsp of olive oil or 2 Tbsp lard. Pull the meat off the skillet and set aside.

Dice the potatoes into relatively small pieces, roughly ½” or smaller. This will help them cook faster. Put them into a large covered bowl with onions, 2 tbsp oil, salt, pepper, and the dill. Mix well and put into the Iron skillet. Cook until the onions start to get a bit translucent. Add the Beer, red wine, Worcestershire sauce. Allow that to bubble off and once it’s cooking well again, add in the rest of the ingredients. Cook until the potatoes are soft, but not mushy, and the sauce has thickened into a gravy.

Pancakes and Opinions

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Somewhere earlier this year, I committed myself to writing a post a week on this site and also having guest blogs. Guess what I haven’t done? Why? No idea. None whatsoever. I write an article every week for the Seward Journal newspaper. It would literally take me an extra 2 minutes to paste it on to the website and share. Anyhow. I’m totally ready to fix that, starting TODAY! I’ll start by going back, at least as well as I can, to some of the recipes I’ve sent into the Seward Journal and to other random crap I’ve cooked up.

So, what is today’s adventure in undernourishment? How about something totally beyond mundane… Pancakes. Pancakes are easily recognized as one of the main staples in the standard dad cooking play-book. As such, we’ve all got pretty specific ideas about how to cook pancakes. There are two basic approaches, mine, and everyone else’s, which might possibly be like mine, in which case it’s correct. To start, the right way NEVER involves oil. None at all. Oil and pancakes are like oil and a grease fire. You would not add oil to a grease fire, so why would you add it to pancakes?

The best part of cooking pancakes like this is that it’s dramatically cheaper than cereal & milk. I think we’re pushing $5/box for the good stuff? Sure, you can get the cheap stuff for, um, cheaper, but the problem with that is that the cheap stuff tends to be less filling and so your children eat more, which more or less negates the cost savings. Plus, you can’t get around the volumes of milk needed to drive a cereal breakfast. If you triple this batch and refrigerate the results, it’ll keep three pre-teens fed for at least a week. Instead of spending $20 on three boxes of cereal and a gallon of milk, you’ve spent probably a total of $5 for the week.

What you need:

  • A pinch of salt, like less than 1/8th tsp.
  • 1 egg
  • Splash of vanilla extract
  • 1 C. milk
  • 1 ¼ C. unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 egg

Directions:

Mix the wet and dry ingredients separately with a whisk, then whisk them together. It’ll be a bit lumpy and that’s fine, so long as it’s not too lumpy.

Pour 1/8th-1/4 C. mix on to a hot, ungreased, non-stick grittle. I do mine at a medium-low, but it’s going to depend a lot on your stove top. Cook until the edges are dry and the bubbles on top are starting to pop, then flip. Cook for another minute or so. That’s it. You’re done. If the tops are too dark when you flip, turn the heat down, if they’re too pale, turn the heat up.