Archive | February, 2013

Ohayo, Ohio

24 Feb

 I have lived in Toledo for almost six months, which I believe is sufficient time to say with confidence that I do not prefer Ohio. Realizing that this preference, or lack thereof, is potentially a character flaw, I am making note of the greater Toledo area’s best features. Perhaps this exercise in optimism will add a bit of cheer to these cold winter months for others suffering from living, unwillingly, in Ohio, or in a similar place. Oh, and in addition to Toledo’s perks, let’s not forget that no Republican president has ever been elected without first winning the most important swing state, Ohio! But back to my particular neck of the woods, and its advantages:

no-country-for-old-men

No Country for Old Men

The NRA gets a lot of love here. Shooting ranges and personal arsenals abound. I’m not a gun enthusiast, but after listening to an NPR interview of Suzanna Hupp in the wake of the Sandy Hook shooting, I am persuaded that the right to own a gun should not be taken lightly, and I’m glad it’s being upheld roundabouts here. In the interview, Hupp described her experience in the 1991 Luby’s Massacre, during which a gunman shot 50 people and killed 23, two of whom were Hupp’s parents, at Lubby’s Cafeteria in Killeen, TX. Hupp was in the habit of carrying a gun, but had not brought it with her into the restaurant because it was against Texas’ concealed weapons laws to do so. During the interview, Hupp expressed her thought that if someone had been carrying a gun during the shooting, the gunman would have been halted in his mass slaughter much sooner. If you’re still not gun-ho (pun intended!), watch No Country for Old Men and try to resist the desire, post-movie, to fire a rifle.

Meijer is the crown jewel of grocery stores. In its entirety, Meijer is actually a department store akin to Walmart. But, in my opinion, it is far superior. The few times I’ve ventured solo to Walmart, I’ve felt as small and helpless as the ants in Dreamworks’ 1998 film Antz must have felt, stumbling along in the wrong aisle with no clue where the few basic items I wanted were to be found. In contrast, Meijer is not quite as vast as Walmart, and is much more comprehensibly laid out. Groceries are cheap and attractively displayed throughout well-berthed aisles. There are plenty of self-checkout lines, too, with no item limit. I am convinced that I can check out my groceries faster than can a store clerk, so even if I have an entire cart of produce requiring keying in of tedious barcodes, I’m self checkin’.

You can shake hands with a farmer. Since middle school, I’ve romanticized the concept of spending several months at a farm. In particular, I have a picture in my head of me wearing an adorable summer dress and big, black rubber boots, whilst milking a cow, and maybe whistling, too. The idea of being a farmer, temporarily, and in a very unrealistic manner, appeals to me. Which is why I was pretty ecstatic when I met a farmer after only my second week in Toledo. At a bar, too, of all places. I asked him so many questions about his experience as a farmer – butchering animals, etc. – that I think he mistook my interest in agriculture for interest in him, hehe.

Speaking of bars, it is entirely too easy to obtain alcohol in this state! Maybe Pennsylvania is particularly stingy with its merrier beverages, but I’m accustomed to alcohol not being sold in grocery stores. In Ohio, though, I’m pretty sure if beer was not easily accessed the suicide rate would skyrocket and social events would become funereal in nature…

stack library booksOn a brainier note, the top two library systems are close by, in Cuyahoga and Columbus, OH. According to Hennen’s American Public Library Ratings, these two library systems ranked numbers one and two out of more than 7,000 library systems nationwide. If I had kids, we’d definitely be taking a field trip to Cuyahoga to investigate their children’s books. I can’t imagine how they wouldn’t have fantastic illustrations at the numero uno library.

And finally, there’s nothing to do. Which means it’s quiet. Which means it’s more difficult to become distracted. Which means I can focus on cooking, hence an explosion of recipe ideas, which begins now, with…

PITA PIZZA TOPPED WITH VEGGIES (Servings: 1)OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

INGREDIENTS:

1 whole wheat pita

1-1/2 sticks of low-fat mozzarella string cheese

2 Tbs. fat-free feta cheese

6-8 grape tomatoes, thinly sliced

¼ to ½ cup raw broccoli, chopped

2-3 mushrooms, thinly sliced

Spices: garlic salt; chili powder; onion powder; Italian seasoning

Salt and Pepper

DIRECTIONS:

Cut the string cheese into small pieces. Layer string cheese, feta cheese, tomatoes, and broccoli on top of pita. Sprinkle generously with spices and S&P. Bake at 400 degrees for 15-20 min.

CALORIES: 300

The pizza tastes even more delicious dipped in ranch dressing. (I like Kraft’s light, cheesy ranch, which is 70 cal/2 Tbs.) You can top the pita with other veggies depending on what you have on-hand. Onions, spinach, peppers, maybe even asparagus could work. I find the broccoli delicious. Veggie tweak, please!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

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Hello Goodbye

3 Feb

frank brownWhile most Chris Brown fans said Deuces after his 2009 altercation with Rihanna, I remained loyal, holding on to my Chris Brown poster (er…posters) and concert tickets, and refusing to decrease his large presence on my iPod. Though I knew Brown was likely not a man of character, I decided that his remarkable dance skills, catchy songs, and adorable smile outweighed his lack of integrity. Besides, it didn’t seem fair to judge him on a single incident. Fast forward almost four years, and Breezy has added to his list of misdemeanors a flight off the handle after a Good Morning America interview with Robin Roberts, a graphically unkind feud with twitter sensation Jenny Johnson, and most recently a brawl with fellow recording artist Frank Ocean. With the ever-growing evidence that Brown has not, after all, modified his behavior post-violence against Riri, I think it’s safe to respectfully decline renewal of my membership on Team Breezy. That being said, I’d like to formally end my relationship with the young Chris Brown with help from some of his, in my opinion, best hits. So here goes:

Dear Mr. Brown,

Thank you for providing me with music that enhanced many impromptu dance parties, intense runs on and off the treadmill, and pre-exam preparations. Unfortunately, recent outbursts of, to put it gently, undue anger on your part lead me to believe that we are not, after all, soul mates.

chrisbrown sidehood

I’m not quite sure why the side hood look didn’t stick.

I first fell for you when Run It was released, in 2005. Indeed, you certainly could run it, run it. Which is probably why you also wrote a song on your self-titled debut album about how [My] Man Ain’t [You], detailing your attractive features, including fly-ness and the ability to sneak out in the middle of the night. However, you took a sudden turn in Just Fine, where you admitted “God will give you someone so much better than me.” I guess towards the end of writing this album is when you realized no matter how fly and driver’s licensed you are, you’re still not as high-quality of dating material as, say, Jay Z or Kanye West??

Album number two, Exclusive, brought out a less stuntin’, more sensitive side to you. With You is downright soppy. But what girl wouldn’t want to be told over and over again, in different variations, “Cause if I got you I don’t need money, I don’t need cars, girl, you’re my all?” Add to this one Superhuman, in which a girl’s love imparts you with bionic strength, and you sound like nothing more or less than a hopeless romantic. If only this album was your sole appearance in hip-hop history!

breezy graffitiYou returned to your pimping, fresh to death roots with 2009’s album Graffiti. In Sing Like Me, you “don’t need no wifey,” nor do you “like it that much to put a ring on it,” yet are quite pleased by the ease with which you bring multiple girls “off to your room.” In retrospect, I’m ashamed at how much I once liked this song. It’s slightly sickening to think of how you made a game out of attracting casual romances, and then went so far as to write a song about the game’s success.

F.A.M.E. is a mostly fun, upbeat album. There are, of course, exceptions, including the truly horrendous Look At Me Now (though the Karmin version is quite outstanding). Yeah 3x encouraged me to “start living”; Beautiful People taught me “[my] beauty is inside…me.” So thanks for the words of wisdom, for once! Oh, and Deuces will be a tough one for me to let go of. Then again, this is likely due to my own struggle with anger management!

Finally, we’ve arrived at your newest album, Fortune. I’ll have you know I always took Turn up the Music very literally. Put in context alongside Don’t Wake Me Up and Don’t Judge Me, it almost seems like you committed a murder and are now trying to distract us with loud music and forget about it yourself…

I’m sorry to have been so acerbic, after so many years of being a faithful listener. I wish you all the best in future songwriting disasters and social mishaps.

Sincerely No Longer Yours,

Heather L. Dolan

…Goodbye to Chris Brown, but Hello to a new recipe! I’m quite proud of this creation – a skinny version of alfredo sauce and pasta. The major selling points are: it’s low calorie, contains few ingredients, is quick to make, and broccoli makes an appearance! Enjoy. And tweak, if you must. I admit the sauce lacks some visual appeal!

SKINNY ALFREDO SAUCE AND PASTA (Servings: 1)

INGREDIENTS: OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

1 cup pasta, uncooked

1 cup frozen broccoli

2 cloves garlic, minced

1/4 cup part-skim mozzarella cheese

1/2 cup 1% milk

Salt and pepper, to taste

DIRECTIONS:

Cook the pasta in boiling water. Meanwhile, cook the broccoli in a separate pot. Add a dash of water. Once the broccoli is thawed, add the garlic, cheese, milk, and S&P, reducing the heat to a simmer. Once the pasta is cooked, pour the broccoli and “alfredo sauce” over it. Eat.

CALORIES (per serving): 335