The Handmaid’s Tale – A Cautionary Tale

I recently started watching Hulu’s adaptation of the best-selling novel by Margaret Atwood, “The Handmaid’s Tale” (1985). Hulu’s The Handmaid’s Tale has received numerous awards including this year’s Emmy’s. I have been riveted by this television series. I also plan to read the book.

The Handmaid’s Tale takes place in the near future in the dystopia of Gilead located in New England. A fundamentalist Christian totalitarian government has overthrown the United States. Women are stripped of all their rights. Gilead faces environmental disasters and plunging birthrates. In this society the Commanders’ wives are sterile. Therefore healthy fertile women, Handmaids, are forced into sexual servitude to help propagate the population. The novel tells the story of, Offred, one of the Handmaids and her survival in this frightening society. Her goal, to survive and find the daughter that was taken away from her.

This disquieting story resonated with me because I feel that if we don’t remain vigilant versions of a Gilead could become a reality. Some of you may feel that it is unlikely a situation like this could ever happen in the United States. However, as a minority, a woman and a Latina, I am keenly aware of all the effort that has gone into attaining equal rights for the various segments of our society. And although we have made inroads, much remains to be done to support diversity in this country. Also working against progress are the harmful radicalized views of some of our fellow citizens. Venezuela has its own version of Gilead. Venezuela went from being a rich democracy to a dictatorship in 18 years.

I will share with you that I am a spiritual person and not a religious person. I support your right to have your own spiritual beliefs. However I am a fervent believer in separation of Church and State. The chilling truth is that our government does not have a true separation of church and state. It is very difficult for some our government representatives to separate morality from religion. The Judicial branch of our government is a perfect example of how conservative and liberal views may influence interpretation of the law. At the state level, states like Utah have legislation that is heavily influenced by the Mormon religion. Gilead, although a fictional place, does not seem so unlikely when we see the behavior or decisions made by some our leaders.

I highly recommend watching The Handmaid’s Tale. Regardless of your belief system and values, be they conservative or liberal, religious or secular, no one wants to lose their inherent rights. The Handmaid’s Tale is a cautionary tale. We have the civic responsibility to participate in our democracy. I feel it is sometimes very easy to rely on others to run things. We must be diligent in understanding what is happening in our government at local, state, and federal levels. And lastly, we must remain vigilant in furthering equal rights in our society. The Handmaid’s Tale calls for advocacy and activism.

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The Empty Nester Food Project

This past August my husband and I helped our youngest daughter move into her college dorm for her freshman year. While we did this, our older son moved by himself into his apartment for his sophomore year. And just like that we were officially “empty nesters”.

When we got home I left to the kennel immediately to pick up our two labs, Maya and Jessie. And thank goodness for them because they fill up an otherwise very empty house. The next day my husband and I were sitting by the pool, enjoying a drink, and perusing though our cookbooks.

Reading cookbooks from our 200+ collection has been a favorite pastime. It is one of the ways we discover new recipes to cook. Feeling a little sad about no longer having the children to cook for, my husband and I were wondering what we were going to do with regard to food. And that is when my husband proposed that we each pick a cookbook and cook our way through it as a fun positive distraction. I raised my glass to that!

So here is the project in a nutshell.

  1. We each pick a favorite cookbook. Curt’s Choice: “Dinner – Changing the Game” by Melissa Clark and Ariadne’s Choice: “The Complete America’s Test Kitchen TV Show Cookbook 2001-2014
  2. We are each responsible for selecting and cooking a new recipe for one of the weekend days.
  3. The weekend cooking yields leftovers for part of the week.
  4. I select and cook a new recipe for one day of the week.
  5. Fridays are now called “Tapas Fridays”. Tapas Fridays will not be restricted to Spanish tapas but to finger foods, snack foods, or party foods from around the world.
  6. We are using the app Evernote to journal the recipe selection, dates, and reviews.
  7. Lastly, I am using my other blog to share our food journal. The Kitchen Blackboard.

Project Update:

September marked the official beginning of our project. Our first Tapas Friday menu included a delicious puff pastry with roasted tomatoes. We accompanied the pastry with roasted parmesan-crusted zucchini rounds. Both the tomatoes and zucchini were from my husband’s garden. We accompanied our fun foods with wine and movies. The weekend’s meals are highlighted in my other blog:  The Kitchen Blackboard. We are very excited with our new project. It certainly has given us new culinary adventures to look forward to and redirected our emotions in a positive way.

Saturday Night’s Spatchcocked Chili-Rubbed Chicken with Avocado Buttermilk dressing, roasted Brussel sprouts and carrots.

Colombian Eggs

“Colombian Eggs” is a family favorite. To our family Colombian eggs are scrambled eggs done in a specific way. Instead of scrambling the eggs ahead of time and then cooking them, we make our Colombian eggs by heating up the pan, cracking the egg(s) into the pan, and then scrambling them as they cook. Our family enjoys two versions of Colombian eggs.

  • Version 1 – Heat a small amount of vegetable oil or butter in a non-stick pan. Let the oil/butter get really brown. Break the egg into the pan and scramble as it cooks. Add salt. Cook to desired consistency.

  • Version 2 – Colombian Eggs with Sofrito.  Sofrito is used in cuisines such as Latin American and Italian cooking. Sofrito is cooked chopped tomato and onion. You can season the sofrito with salt and pepper. If you want you can add a little cumin. It is used as a base in food preparation or as a flavor enhancer. For Colombian eggs with sofrito heat a small amount of vegetable oil or butter in a non-stick pan. Warm the sofrito. Break the egg into the pan and scramble as it cooks. Add Salt.

In Colombia you would eat your eggs with an arepa. An arepa is a patty made with ground maize dough. I accompany my Colombian Eggs with whatever is handy.

 

Maya and Her Favorite Ball

Maya has a favorite ball. It’s an old soccer ball that once belonged to our children. We discovered many years ago that Maya loved playing fetch with this particular ball. The ball is now worn and deflated, but it is still Maya’s favorite. We store it in the garage in a bin on a shelf. Once in a while, Maya re-discovers her favorite ball and stands by it, whimpering until a human gets it for her. Maya is older and slower now but when she sees her favorite ball she is a puppy again. Her enthusiasm is infectious!

Maya’s Favorite Ball

 

The Other 5th Real Beatle

In case you were unaware there was a 5th Beatle member see picture below.

Today, I came across this picture that I took with the boys. It made me laugh and today I needed some cheering up. “In My Life”,  I am turning to humor to get me through the “Long and Winding Road Ahead”. The recent “Helter Skelter” of our “Tax Man” is making me scream “Help”. Hopefully, “We Can Work It Out” and “Come Together” with a “Little Help From My Friends”.

Me and the Boys

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Happy Birthday Maya!

Today we are celebrating our dog, Maya’s, 10th birthday. She was named Maya after the Maya Indians of Mexico who were the first to make chocolate with the cacao bean and Maya is a chocolate lab.

When we brought her home in May of 2007 …

The early years…

 

 

 

 

 

 

All grown up…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The London years…

 

Her working years…

Her big sister years…

 

 

Happy Birthday to our beautiful girl Maya!

May we enjoy many more wonderful years together!

Everyday with you is a celebration!

 

 

Korea Town, NYC

Tucked away on 32nd street between 5th Avenue and Broadway in New York City is Korea Town. This is where my best friend from college took me to lunch yesterday. Mary immigrated to the United States from South Korea when she was 13 years old. We met as freshmen in college in the basement stacks of the library. The day we met she said to me that she wanted to major in astrophysics. We laugh now when we reminisce 37 years later, because as she puts it, “That was the major of the day”. She went on to become an architect and I became an electrical engineer.

Although Mary and I have very different cultural backgrounds, we share one very important characteristic: we are both immigrants to the United States. Over the years, our friendship has offered us the opportunity to learn about each other’s cultures. My friend is getting ready to move overseas so I quickly arranged a trip to see her before she leaves. After meeting me at the train station yesterday she took me to Korea Town. This visit gave me a newfound appreciation for our long-lasting and rich friendship. Our first stop was to the huge Korean food store, H-Mart, where Mary gave me a tour of all the sections.

The chili paste section

The chili paste section

The snack section

The snack section

Rice cakes that we would later enjoy in our soup.

Rice cakes that we would later enjoy in our soup.

She was in the market for Wasabi powder. However, as she approached the cashier she lit up when she saw the frozen treats freezer. She grabbed a red bean ice bar and said, “I grew up with these, let’s try this before lunch!”

Our purchases: Wasabi powder and red bean ice pop.

Our purchases: Wasabi powder and red bean ice pop.

I thought I would just take a bite but then she got a phone call and I held on to the bar while she talked, and by the time she finished her phone call I had managed to enjoy half the bar. The bar was was a mildly sweet refreshing custard with red beans interspersed throughout.

The yummy red bean ice pop.

The yummy red bean ice pop.

We then went to the Korean restaurant New Wonjo. The best part was letting my friend decide what we were having. We enjoyed a delicious spicy beef and vegetable stew called Yook Ge Jang and a milder dumpling and rice cake soup called DDUK Mandoo Guk.

The spicy beef and vegetable stew.

The spicy beef and vegetable stew.

Before the soups arrived they served us an assortment of kimchi (pickled vegetables), salads, and a dry fish. We ended our meal with a yummy cold cinnamon drink. What an amazing lunch!

Dumpling and Rice Cake soup.

Dumpling and Rice Cake soup.

 

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Little nibbles with lunch (Top left to right: green salad, garlic snapes with red pepper, broccoli, macaroni salad, Bottom left to right: root vegetable kimchi, cabbage kimchi, and dried fish)

The rest of our visit included a visit to fabric stores in New York City’s Garment district and a 45 block walk up-town to my friend’s place. The walk took us through Central Park where we stopped to see the tribute to John Lennon in Strawberry Fields. As always, it was a wonderful visit with an old friend which gave me a renewed sense of gratitude for our friendship.

I love everything international. I relish in meeting people from around the world and learning about their cultures. I feel this adds richness to my life. My friendship with Mary has added a wonderful dimension to my life. Exposure to different cultures leads to a better understanding and ultimately acceptance of those who are different.

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It is my hope for my children that they also have the opportunity to make friends from around the world. It is my continued hope that the United States continues to be a haven for immigrants from around the world because we all benefit from this.

Strawberry Fields, Tribute to John Lennon in Central Park

Strawberry Fields, Tribute to John Lennon in Central Park

Maybe it was not serendipity that our walk took us through Strawberry Fields. Maybe we needed to be reminded of John Lennon’s song, Imagine.

Imagine there’s no heaven
It’s easy if you try
No hell below us
Above us only sky
Imagine all the people living for today
Imagine there’s no countries
It isn’t hard to do
Nothing to kill or die for
And no religion too
Imagine all the people living life in peace, you
You may say I’m a dreamer
But I’m not the only one
I hope some day you’ll join us
And the world will be as one
Imagine no possessions
I wonder if you can
No need for greed or hunger
A brotherhood of man
Imagine all the people sharing all the world, you
You may say I’m a dreamer
But I’m not the only one
I hope some day you’ll join us
And the world will be as one