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The Widening Gyre: Inequality, Polarization, and the Crisis












Comments on DA Ken Buck’s Refusal to Prosecute

Thai Coconut Ice Cream

The title is a bit of a misnomer, as there’s no “cream” (in the dairy sense) involved at all. And before you run away thinking this is some crazy vegan thing…well, it’s vegan, but 1) decadent and delicious, and 2) very traditional.

There are many hybrid recipes for coconut ice cream, such as those adding whip cream and/or eggs. These are meant to appeal to an American palate, and our expectation that ice cream is made from a cream-based custard. Fortunately, this traditional recipe needs neither! That means it’s both easier and healthier.

Machine vs Freezer?
You can make this one of two ways – in an ice cream maker (we have this one), or in a bowl in the freezer. If using an ice cream maker, simply follow the machine directions, noting that this will not be as hard as traditional ice cream. It has more of a soft-serve consistency. For harder ice cream, simply pop it in the freezer for an hour or so after churning, then serve. The consistency is superior from an ice cream maker, as the constant churning will make the ice cream more smooth. However, if you don’t have one, freezing it “by hand” will taste just as good! The no-ice-cream-maker directions follow the ingredient list.

2 cans coconut milk (or one can of coconut milk and one of coconut cream, which is sweetened and contains the thickener carrageenan and will result in a slightly sweeter, creamier end product)
1 cup water
3/4 cup sugar
3/4 teaspoon salt
Optional: 1/2 cup shredded coconut, 1/2 cup finely chopped mango, 1/3 cup Thai basil, etc – experiment! My favorite is a combination of coconut and mango, topped with crushed peanuts.
Toppings: Toasted coconut, crushed peanuts, honey, pineapple pieces, etc. Or, eat it plain!

In the microwave or on the stove, boil the water.
2. Add the sugar and stir until it dissolves.
3. Stir in the coconut milk and salt, using a whisk to mix thoroughly.
4. Refrigerate until cool.
5. Process in ice cream maker, OR,
5. Place in the freezer for one hour, then take it out and stir thoroughly.
6) Repeat in one hour increments until it reaches the desired consistency, then serve.

Notes on making it without an ice cream maker: If you have a hand mixer, try using it on low speed. If not, stir very thoroughly – the goal is to prevent large ice crystals from forming, which would make it more of an Italian Ice texture than iced cream-y. When you stir thoroughly, you break up existing ice crystals so they don’t get a chance to get so large.
Overall, this should take three to four hours, depending on the exact texture you want. You can always stir it more frequently (the more the creamier, actually) but don’t let it sit for longer than an hour. Once it’s actually frozen at the desired texture, you can leave it alone for a night or two without any problems 🙂

Orange Zucchini Muffins

1 cup shredded zucchini
1-1/4 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg, divided
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 eggs or 1/3 cup applesauce (not both!)
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
1/3 cup cooking oil (use nut oil like walnut or hazelnut if you have it – otherwise canola will do just fine)
2 tablespoons orange juice
1 tablespoon grated orange zest
1 teaspoon vanilla (use alcohol-free vanilla if you can, as it imparts a smoother, sweeter, richer flavor)
1/2 cup dried cranberries
1 tablespoon sugar

1. Squeeze zucchini until dry; set aside.
2. In a large bowl, combine flour, 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt.
2. In another bowl, whisk the eggs or applesauce, brown sugar, oil, orange juice, orange peel, and vanilla.
3. Stir wet ingredients into dry mix, taking care not to over mix – stir just until the dry ingredients are moistened. Over mixing will make for tougher muffins.
4. Fold in cranberries and zucchini.
5. Fill paper-lined muffin cups two-thirds full. (TIP: use a cookie scoop for easy, mess-free paper cup filling. I’ve found that the large ones deposit the perfect amount of batter for standard muffin tins)
6. Combine sugar and remaining nutmeg, and sprinkle on top of the batter.
7. Bake at 350 deg F for 18-22 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
8. Cool for five minutes before removing from the pan, and serve warm.


    Muffins made with apple sauce instead of eggs will have a better flavor, but take longer to bake – keep checking for doneness every two minutes.
    This recipe makes 10-12 muffins, but can easily be doubled.

Recovery – Day 2

I’ve discovered that adding ibuprofen to the mix helps keep the swelling down somewhat, and so today I was able to have about 1oz of a banana/cashew butter/coconut milk smoothie, and about 4oz of a Bolthouse Farms protein shake. I’m currently eyeing a cup of vegetable broth with trepidation, as it didn’t go well on my first attempt. We shall see…

Last night I stayed at my parents’ house, in what used to be my room. I think it was good for all of us, because I slept uninterrupted but for the four hour water and medication increments, and apparently Mattie slept through the night. (Which brings up the ask of Night Weaning…which I think I’ll save for when I can eat real food and speak to tackle).

It was comforting to be back at my parents’ house, although strange in ways (primarily that they still don’t knock on doors!). There’s a television in the room, and if there’s one thing TV is good for its nodding off to.

So, I slept until 9am, and then made an appearance at the kitchen table to try and make/choke down aforementioned banana smoothie. (It was actually quite delicious, and when I can chew again I’ll be making it with frozen banana.) My 10am hydrocodone dose sent me back to bed until 1, when I woke up wondering where Michael was. He’d been told to bring Mattie over at noon for a few ours, but when Mattie fell asleep at 11:30 he decided to let him nap and then come over.

Aside from a mostly one-sided conversation with my sister Tara, and my mom trying to do anything she could to make me more comfortable, today has been uneventful.

My mother did manage to get the surgeon on the phone, and convince him to prescribe a viscous lidocaine to use as a mouth wash. Now I just have to get used to not being able to gargle – I’m supposed to hold this gel at the top of my throat for a few seconds so it can numb my surgical sites, but mostly it either slides down my trachea (and I choke and cough) or I start to swallow it (and I gag). Or, it sits on my tongue, and then that’s numb. When I did get it in the right spot, though, it was WONDERFUL. So, I’m going to keep trying.

The regimen is as follows:

Hydrocodone/acetaminophen 7.5/500, 15ml every 4 hours
Ibuprofen, 4tsp every 6 hours
Augmentin, 3ml 3x daily
Lidocaine gel rinse, 15ml every 3 hours
Chloraseptic spray, 4 sprays every 2 hours

That, and ice chips all day, sips of water when I can swallow, and some form of “real” food (pedialyte, protein shake, etc) about an hour after the hydrocodone dose kicks in – just before I fall asleep.

I haven’t figured out what to do about my tongue, which has a big lumpy sore on it from the clamp they used, or how to brush my teeth (not allowed to use toothpaste) without hurting myself but it’ll happen, I’m sure.

I’m definitely feeling more positive today than yesterday – it hurts an equal amount, but the fact that the swelling is down has been a huge help. I think simply having nutrients in my body for the first time since Wednesday, and a good night of sleep, helped immensely.

Here’s hoping progress continues! I’ve heard most people say it gets worse around the sixth or seventh day, when the scabs from cauterization come off, but I’m going to do as Michael always says: “Hope for the best, prepare for the worst.”

Big thanks to my mom and dad for letting me sleep there last night, to my mom for checking on me at 2:30am and making sure I always had ice, water, and whatever else I needed, to my dad for driving me there and not trying to make me talk, to Tara for buying the protein shakes and pedialyte freezer pops I could eat, and to Josh for the laughs. Not to mention, thanks to Michael for taking his first night alone with Mattie in stride, and pushing me to eat when I just want to sleep. I don’t know where I’d be without everyone 🙂

Recovery – diagram

Here’s what they took out – tonsils, adenoids, and a lump.


Recovery Day 1, Part 2

To continue the saga begun in this post

Michael got me home at about 3pm yesterday, after a trip to the pharmacy for a gigantic bottle of hydrocodone/acetaminophen and two bottles of augmentin. Ny the time we got to Bellefonte I was sleeping with my head propped on the back of Mattie’s car seat.

After I crawled up stairs and into bed, we got the warm-air humidifier set up next to the bed and Michael gave me my medicine. He also brought up a big jug of water, and the left me to sleep…which I did, until around six, when I woke up from the pain.

I’m not sure how to describe the feeling of this – first, is the clogged, swollen, choking feeling I described earlier. Second, is outright pain from four cauterizer sites where my tonsils and adenoids were removed. These make it so that when I swallow – be it saliva, water, or medication – I start to cry.

Around 6pm I managed to get out of bed, and Michael tried to get me to drink a protein shake. I found that it was nearly impossible to swallow, so after about 2oz of it I was gagging so much I gave up.

Last night was a seemingly endless cycle of sleeping for two or three hours, waking in pain, choking down some water and some medicine, and then trying to sleep sitting up. I was starting to feel like my throat was closing in on itself – which, as long as I can breathe, is pretty normal.

Today has been more of the same, except that I’ve been trying to stay awake so that I can stay hydrated. Apparently the absolute worst thing I can do is to let my throat dry out, as that will increase swelling, make the scabs larger and thicker, and make the healing process longer (not to mention the pain worse).

So far I haven’t had anything but water and that small amount of protein shake, which may be contributing to my awful mood. Between my pain and hunger, and Mike’s having to be sole caregiver for Mattie, tensions are a bit high here. Lucky for us, I can’t talk so it’s not possible to have a fight. For now I’m hiding in our room while Michael tries to get Mattie to sleep.

More later, as the healing continues…I’ve heard almost unanimously that it gets worse until day seven or eight, so we’ll see how it goes.

Recovery Day 1

Yikes. So, I’ve had a lump on my tonsil since December. After three rounds of antibiotics and a negative strep test, the otolaryngologist I was referred to recommended removing both my tonsils and my adenoids.

Yesterday we arrived at the hospital at 9:15, got checked in, and then immediately taken back for a pregnancy test (negative) and to get undressed. The nurse (who I really liked but whose name escapes me right now) started my IV saline drip and spent a few minutes chatting about kids, careers, etc.

Then…we sat. For an hour. In my bare-assed hospital gown.

My anesthesiologist came in and we talked about his son’s metal band for a while – and I advised him that my failed epidural hadn’t given me the best impression of anesthesiologists. He laughed and told me I must’ve had a hack, and that he’d be taking much better care of me.

I hate being out of control in any circumstance, but the idea of being naked on an operating table in front of who knows how many people, my mouth wedged open and my tongue pulled out with a metal clamp…well, that’s terrifying.

When another Nurse came in and put what she called “happy juice” in my IV, she started to wheel me out before I had a chance to say goodbye…my mother stopped her, and gave me a hug and a kiss before I demanded to see Michael. He only got to squeeze my hand and smile before I was on my way to the OR.

Sometime between saying goodbye and getting to the operating room I was out cold. I do know that they intubated me and were pumping anesthesia via my airway during the operation. The next thing I remember was waking up, choking on a tube in my throat. They pulled that out and put on an oxygen mask but I was drifting in and out, trying to close my eyes against the bright lights in post-op.

The first sensation I noticed was one of congestion, that still hasn’t gone away. The only comparison I can come up with is the heavy postnatal drip from a bad cold. I feel like I constantly need to swallow something at the back of my tongue, or clear my throat.

After that the pain hit, and I was given two IV doses of Fentanyl and a hydrocodone syrup. Wheeling into the recovery room, I was already nodding off. Michael and my mom were waiting for me (or maybe they came in after? I’m not sure) and they both tried to get me talking…no such luck. Between the sedatives and my pain, the most I could manage was a mumble asking about Mattie and that no, I didn’t want to watch TV.

To be continued…drifting off again

Anniversary menu :)

For our anniversary, Michael surprised me with a night at the Carnegie House. We had an 8pm dinner reservation, and the suite on the top floor for the night. We woke up to the first real snow of the season – making it a truly perfect night.

The real star of the show, though, was the food!  Here’s what we ate:

In the lounge area we had apéritifs, amuse-bouche of creamed cauliflower soup with a swirl of red pepper cream, and mandarin orange salad. Then, our wine selections (an Oregon Pino Noir for me and a Merlot for Michael).

At our private table we had a rustic rosemary bread with olive oil for dipping (which had cloves of roasted garlic in it), followed by our salads (mine: roasted beet salad with chèvre and fennel; Mike’s: Caesar made tableside). Next they served the entrees (mine: butternut squash ravioli in a brown-butter sage sauce with roasted hazelnuts, served in a roasted acorn squash; Mike’s: penne pasta with roasted red pepper, tomatoes, spinach, olives, and pine nuts in a white wine and garlic sauce), and finally a dessert of crème brûlée for me and key lime pie for Michael, with port and espresso…

Not to mention the champagne with chocolate truffles waiting in our room when we got back.

I’m still full from it all – and it was SO worth it. I’d point anyone to the Carnegie House for a special occasion. Just be sure you have money to spend, because for the State College area the prices are steep – probably the steepest. I can’t think of a restaurant of its equal – not the Gamble Mill, not Zola’s, not Alto. It was fantastic!