The very few things I know about cooking

I’d rather do the dishes than prepare them

CookingThere are very few things I know about cooking.

1. In general, longer is better.

I discovered this when my father would spend hours cooking spaghetti sauce on the stove at low heat when I was growing up. Ask any barbecue chef and they’ll tell you that time is their ally in creating a great taste.

Bt it’s even true with mundane food such as oatmeal. My wife makes instant oatmeal in the microwave most mornings. But she always says it tastes better when I just boil a pan of water and cook it on the stove for a minute. The process takes an extra four minutes, vital for her on a weekday morning.

2. Water is useful.

I was watching the CBS morning show on Saturday earlier this year. It always has a cooking section. The chef was apparently world-famous, white, male, older, and I think with an accent, but I had never heard of him. He was frying eggs when he put a little water into the hot pan, much to the puzzlement of host Jeff Glor, and me.

I started cooking eggs that way and discovered that, for the first time in six decades of cooking eggs, I could successfully prepare them over easy.

Also, I make omelets with fresh spinach. I would prepare the spinach with a little butter/margarine/Olivio. But my wife wanted to avoid the calories and suggested I use a pan spray. For me, the spinach did not reduce properly. But it did with relatively little water.

Cleanup time 

3. All things being equal, I’d rather clean up afterward.

I’ve noticed that when my wife or daughter prepares food, they use far more dishes/pans/pots than I do so. As I try to keep up with the dishes, I’m forever surprised by that fact. If money were no object, I’d eat out or get takeout every other night. Maybe it’s that I’ve had more experience cooking for one.

But playing in soapy water: now THAT’S something I can get into. I get a certain joy from the cleanup than I ever get cooking or baking. At Thanksgiving dinner in 1987 with over a dozen people, I really didn’t mind the cleanup at all. It’s…USEFUL. Whereas others groan and kvetch about the scalded pots and sticky mixing bowls, I rather enjoy the challenge.

Coverville 1381: The 18th Annual Beatles Thanksgiving Cover Story

We’re in this water, it’s in us, on us

Mahogany Mermaids

Wade in the waterIn this Now I Know piece about Fred Rogers, Dan Lewis quoted Greg Carr. “That’s the most intimate thing,” the chairman of Howard University’s Afro-American studies department noted. “I’m in this water, you’re in this water, it’s in me, on me.”

What are we talking about? Swimming together, wading in the water together, black and white. In a New York Times article – behind a paywall – there’s a relevant 2018 article. “Racism at American Pools Isn’t New: A Look at a Long History.”

And the issue isn’t limited to pools. There has been a contentious history even of public beach access. “Well into the 20th century, northern municipalities in the US treated beaches as spaces for enforcing the kind of Jim Crow segregation commonly associated with the post-Reconstruction South… Municipal shoreline policies were directed towards racial and class exclusion, yet often used ‘ostensibly race-neutral laws’ to achieve their aims.

“Sometimes, Black beachgoers were explicitly told they could not access a beach or were confined to an undesirable area. Other times, municipalities used elaborate means to enforce Jim Crow on the shoreline while obscuring their racist intentions.

“One New Jersey town, for example, required beachgoers to buy a ticket to access one of its four beaches. But when Black beachgoers bought tickets, they were given tickets to Beach 3 only. ‘Across America, this was how many black children first encountered the color line: during summer and at the beach.'”

Read about the St. Augustine, Florida wade-in, June 1964. The photo above is from that event.

Unspoken rules

The Windy City area provides a striking example. “Though never segregated by law, Chicago’s beaches were long segregated in practice. With the start of the Great Migration during World War I, Chicago’s growing African American population confronted sharp limits in access to beaches, enforced by violent responses from whites.

“In 1912, for example, a Black child was attacked after attempting to bathe at the white 39th Street Beach, nearly causing a riot. Into the 1950s and 60s, African Americans visiting white beaches met conflict and violence upon entering – and apathy from park police.”

The 2020 article notes that change is difficult and slow. “Today, methods of regulating beach access in metropolitan Chicago are subtler, but they continue to produce discriminatory outcomes and beaches largely segregated by class and race.”

The couplet within a song performed by Pete Seeger in 1963 called If You Miss Me at the Back of the Bus is relevant here: 

If you miss me at the Mississippi River, and you can’t find me nowhere.
Come on over to the swimmin’ pool, I’ll be swimmin’ over there.

Plays a cop on TV

Which brings us back to Mr. Rogers. He notes that François Clemmons, an actor and opera singer, played “Officer Clemmons, a recurring character on the television show… Every once in a while, Clemmons would visit his neighbor. There shouldn’t be anything even remotely noteworthy [about them wading in a small pool together in 1969], except maybe for how high they rolled up their pants relative to the water level.

“For the kids watching, there may not have appeared to be anything out of the ordinary… But for the adults, it was borderline scandalous — or perhaps would have been, had they been watching.

“The vestiges of such discrimination were still present… Just weeks before the Civil Rights Act of 1964 went into effect, for example, a motel manager infamously dumped cleaning supplies into a pool, intending to get swimmers — black and white together — to exit the pool.”

Clemmons notes in the documentary Won’t You Be My Neighbor?  xenophobes “didn’t want black people to come and swim in their swimming pools. My being on the program was a statement for Fred,” and one they both hoped kids would pick up on.

Don’t Go Near the Water

The result of the narrative is why, statistically speaking, black Americans don’t swim. Thus, black youth are at higher risk of drowning

In 2015, Jessica Williams reported for The Daily Show with Jon Stewart a satirical piece. “Assault Swim – Progress in Community Policing,” noting the risk of Swimming While Black.

Thus, this recent story resonated very much with me.  N.C. swim team brings Black women to the pool for competition and camaraderie. “How often do you see this? You don’t ever see Black women swimming in a pool together,” said one member of the Mahogany Mermaids.

“I’m in this water, you’re in this water, it’s in me, on me.” Wade in the Water, children.

Not a drop to drink: Columbus/indigenous people day 2015

If it weren’t for Darlene Arviso, the “Water Lady”, there would be no potable water for these folks.

arviso_water4editIn the “THAT won’t happen” department: US should return stolen land to Indian tribes, says United Nations.

OK, so what does the US do? It needs to address some basic inequity. This is embarrassing and uncivilized:

It’s easy to miss this corner of the Navajo Nation, just 100 miles west of Albuquerque. Most things pass the Reservation right by, including progress.
Many of the roads here are unpaved. Electricity is spotty. Unemployment in the area hovers near 70 percent.
But perhaps most shocking of all? An estimated 40 percent of the people who live here don’t have access to running water.

If it weren’t for Darlene Arviso, the “Water Lady”, there would be no potable water for these folks. It’s good that DigDeep, a 501c3, has been organized to “change the lives of American families without water” through the Navajo Water Project. Although, as the story makes clear, it was the Navajo’s lack of political access – they weren’t allowed to vote for years – plus the uranium mining, that has put the people in such dire straits.

Still, the US government SHOULD be taking care of its own, making a merely small dent in the reparations due. I’m certain there are stories like this all over the country.

Don’t give up the fight

“Why AM I dehydrated and thirsty when I drink so much water?”

no standingIn that flurry of blog posts that Arthur wrote in December 2014 was one called Get Up, Stand Up, where he links to a video about how sitting too much will probably kill you. I relate to this greatly.

In my job at FantaCo (1980-1988), I stood at the counter, stood at the table where I did mail order, even usually stood when I did the bookkeeping. But in my current job (1992-present), I sit a lot at a desk, at a computer. It explains not just my weight gain, but more specifically why my bad cholesterol (LDL) was too high, even when I am exercising.

Obesity has been associated with numerous chronic medical conditions, including heart disease, diabetes, hypertension, sleep apnea, osteoarthritis, depression, and even certain cancers. Yet, there is so much misinformation in the media on weight loss from claims that everything from acai berries to costly supplements is the secret to obtaining a slim body. But truthfully, there is no quick fix for weight loss. Weight loss requires a very conscious effort to implement changes to ones’ habits and lifestyle. To get more tips, visit

Ever since I saw one on TV a couple of years ago, I have coveted one of those treadmill desks. But that’s not going to happen. The suggestions from the video – getting up regularly, drinking plenty of water – are good ideas that I know intellectually but can stand the reminder.

Someone recently sent me this article about magnesium deficiency, and it set me to wondering. “Why AM I dehydrated and thirsty when I drink so much water?” Hmm.

Anyway, I gotta get up and dance to Arthur’s Bob Marley’s reggae groves.

W is for Water worries

The calculus is whether the short-term economic gain is worth the long-term ecological loss.

“In December 2010, the United Nations General Assembly declared 2013 as the United Nations International Year of Water Cooperation (Resolution A/RES/65/154). In reflection of this declaration, the 2013 World Water Day, which will take place on 22 March 2013, also will be dedicated to water cooperation. Therefore, UN-Water has called upon UNESCO to lead the 2013 United Nations International Year on Water Cooperation…”

For years, I’ve been hearing that the wars of the 21st Century will be fought, not over oil or precious metals, but over H2O. I was distressed to hear from the Nestle CEO that water is not a human right and should be privatized, which is already happening in Canada. This has energized the forces calling for a boycott of Nestle products.

As the UN reports note, climate change and other human activities are messing up the planet’s “hydrological cycle,” leading to more droughts in some parts of the earth, and devastating flooding in others. The only year in the last five that the Red River did NOT flood near Fargo, ND was when there was a drought in the region; talk about all or nothing.

My concern over a process called hydrofracking, which, according to many opponents, “uses significantly more water than conventional drilling, as well as a ‘slick water’ mixture that is pumped into the shale to fracture the rock and release the [natural] gas,” is largely based on the use and potential abuse of precious water supplies. “There is an increased potential for toxicity and its long-term impacts, [as well as] the environmental impacts of the drilling: surface and subterranean damage including forestland loss… [and] groundwater and surface water contamination…” Where will the toxic fluids go is a large and seemingly unresolved question.

Fracking is a highly charged issue in New York State because the financially depressed Southern Tier region (Jamestown to Elmira to my hometown of Binghamton) is sitting on top of part of the Marcellus basin deposit which could be a boon to the area. The calculus is whether the short-term economic gain is worth the long-term ecological loss.

On a planet of about seven billion people, more than one billion are suffering from lack of ANY clean, potable water, and twice that cannot get to “any type of improved sanitation facility. About 2 million people die every year due to diarrhoeal diseases, most of them are children less than 5 years of age.”

Read more about water policy HERE.

One does NOT want to be quoting Samuel Taylor Coleridge:
Water, water, every where,
Nor any drop to drink.

ABC Wednesday – Round 12

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