It’s pumpkin fondue time

To me fall means cheesy pumpkin fondue. And because I firmly believe that everyone should experience this joy at least once in their lives, and by popular request, I’m reposting my favorite fall recipe. Enjoy!

1. Start with a medium orange sugar pie pumpkin. You can tailor your size to the size of the group who will be eating. Keep the top and scoop out the guts. Reserve and toast the seeds for a side-treat. Rub the insides of your pumpkin with salt.

2. Make your cream mixture. Start with 2 cups (or one container) of heavy whipping cream. Add a cup of vegetable broth, 3 or 4 healthy shakes of ground nutmeg (or freshly ground nutmeg), some salt and pepper, and whisk it all together.

3. Grate your cheese. I like to use half Gruyere and half Emmental, but I am sure any melty, delicious cheese will work. I probably use 5-6 cups of cheese total.

4. Thinly slice and toast a baguette. Toasting is actually optional.

5. Stuff your pumpkin. Do a layer of bread, followed by a layer of cheese, finished with a half cup or so of the cream mixture. Keep repeating until the pumpkin is full.

6. Put the top back on the pumpkin. Then, wash your hands well, and rub the entire outside of the pumpkin with olive oil and salt. While you do this, think about how much you love the people you’ll be serving the pumpkin to. (I always want to remind folks to remember the most important ingredient of any dish- love.)

7. Put the pumpkin in a roasting pan or even on a pizza pan and into your oven heated to 450 degrees and cook for at least an hour and a half. Often it takes closer to two. You’ll know its done because the pumpkin skin will be a rust, deep orange color, and the insides will look bubbly and gooey.

8. Place the now bubbling gooey pumpkin on a serving platter surrounding by baguette, crackers, or other dipping implements. It’s also a good idea to equip your guests with forks or a big knive to help get pieces of pumpkin onto their plates.

Enjoy!

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Fruitvale Station, Not Guilty Verdicts, and Turning Anger to Action

Last night I saw Fruitvale Station at the Grand Lake Theater in Oakland. We heard about the verdict in the George Zimmerman trial just minutes before getting in line.

It is hard to communicate just how poignant the film was on a night like last night. And it somehow feels pretentious to even use that word as a white woman on a night like last night.

In Ryan Coogler’s incredible film, I saw a flawed Black man in Oscar Grant. He was struggling due to the exact same system of oppression as that which would kill him. The film paints a vivid picture of Oscar as complicated and flawed and a young man trying to leave his youthful mistakes behind.

Yet not a single one of those realities of who Oscar was means his life should have any less value, nor his soul less possible to be the victim of a hate-motivated murder. The Oscar I saw was also a man who we are told daily by Fox News and COPS and police and people who some of us have voted into office and racists on twitter and just too many people is scary. Dangerous.

Just two hours before the film started, George Zimmerman was declared not guilty. Not just not guilty of murder, but not guilty of anything. He stalked and followed, against direct orders from police, chased and murdered a Black child. Trayvon Martin.

Then followed a trial which put more effort into judging Trayvon, a teenage boy, as a criminal and more effort into judging his close friend on the witness stand and she described how she heard the moments before Trayon’s death. More effort into discounting the credibility of youth of color than judging the man who was driven by hate and fear to murder.

I can only imagine that Trayvon was, like Oscar, flawed and complicated. What teenage boy isn’t?

But it feels unimaginable to blame him for his own death. Yet that is how white supremacy works. For centuries we have normalized whiteness while over-valuing whiteness so that all that is ‘other’ is suspect.

I have never heard a theater so silent as the one last night. Silent other than sobs. I heard mothers wailing because they know too intimately how easy it could be to be Oscar’s mother or Trayvon’s mother on a night like last night.

And as I heard those cries, I thought about how I will never truly understand. And as much as I want to understand and I desperately want to undo racism and as much as I believe I have learned so much, I will never truly know what it feels like to not be white and live with white supremacy.

I couldn’t help last night to reflect on the words of Miss Ella Josephine Baker, spoken nearly fifty years ago: “Until the killing of black men, black mothers’ sons, becomes as important to the rest of the country as the killing of a white mother’s son. We who believe in freedom cannot rest until this happens.”

So today I’m asking myself, what will I do?

Sharing outrage on social media and venting will only do so much. As nomy lamm wrote, “It’s not just about what you do with your mind. It’s what you do with your hands, what you do with your time.”

I intend to be one of those who continues to believe in freedom. And I invite you, especially fellow white folks, to not rest until it comes. Not just by talking the talk but by taking concrete actions in our lives to unlearn white supremacy and dismantle racism.

Some of my commitments are that I’ll push myself to have conversations, kind but serious conversations, with the white folks around me about the reality of white supremacy and white privilege. And not just with those who already agree with me that this shit is twisted.

I will continue to support the leadership and efforts of groups like the Dream Defenders and Color of Change who are working to shift the future for young folks of color. And stand in solidarity with people of color building on a long history of resistance and struggle as movements against racism forge on.

I will go stand with my community this afternoon at the gathering planned in protest of the verdict.

I will continue to respond to the calls to action from the California Prisoner’s Hunger Strike.

I will continue to educate myself. To read and learn and watch and listen whenever I have opportunities to understand more about the legacy of racism and the ways it impacts people and families and communities.

And I’ll continue to seek opportunities to work with (and support the leadership of) other white folks who are committed to undoing racism on art, and education, and organizing until more white people see dismantling white supremacy as their work than not.

If you are outraged about the verdict, what will you do?

Posted in Anti-Oppression, Anti-Racism | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Wishin and Hopin on Human Rights Day

Image

 

International Human Rights Day. How do I begin to engage in conversation that feels authentic, timely, and wise? How can I put out my wishes and hopes for a world where each human on the planet lives with dignity, respect, and justice?

I think of the thousands of people locked behind bars in the United States. We lock up more people than any other nation on the planet. Yet with most of the prisons and jails tucked away into rural communities– out of sight, out of mind– it is easy to forget them. On Human Rights Day, I remember them.

I think of thousands of immigrants- both those with and without documentation– who want to call this nation their home yet face anti-immigrant laws, policies, and sentiment at every turn. I think about my own ancestors who were immigrants themselves- changing their name to fit into their new home, losing some of their cultural and religious practices along the way. At what cost did their assimilation come? Would they recognize, as I do, that they aren’t very different than those seeking opportunity, community, and dignity in the United States today? On Human Rights Day, I hope for a new conversation and a new approach to our borders that recognizes the human dignity of each individual. 

I think about the woman of color I saw today trying to maneuver a double stroller filled with white babies into the bus. I commuted hoping  she has dignity and security in her work. She made me think about the righteous work of domestic workers across this country who too often have little job security or respect in their jobs. On Human Rights Day, I wish for domestic workers an upswell of support and activism that fuels their efforts for respect and rights. 

I think about my fellow queers. How as LGBTQI people our rights to be, to love, and to live with dignity are seen as appropriate conversations for public debate. How queer families and queer people often live in the “in-between” spaces where we can re-invent and recreate ways of living and being that defy the norms that too often diminish human rights. And I wish for every queer person and family to feel reflected and respected in our country. 

I think of every person who has protested for something they believe in this year— from January’s protests against SOPA and PIPA to the activism happening in Michigan against the “right to work” law today. My heart cringes at all the times someone in this country was pepper sprayed, beaten, arrested or dismissed for taking a stance. And I hope our country realizes that we too have a long way to go to protect our citizen’s human rights when they rise up against oppression and speak out for collective liberation. 

Lastly, I wish that 2013 brings a new spirit to our country. One that allows folks to realize that each of our freedom and dignity is wrapped up in the freedoms and dignity of the person they think they share nothing with. Where collective liberation for all becomes more than a dream. And where all the lofty ideas of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights become more than a dream. 

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , | 1 Comment

Can you be fiscally conservative, yet socially liberal?

For some reason during this election season, more than any other that I remember, I have heard and seen on social networks people identify as “fiscally conservative, socially liberal.” This is often how they explain that while they don’t necessarily wish harm on “the gays,” or women or people of color, but they are still going to vote Republican.

I’m not all that committed to changing the votes of extended family or acquaintances. Nor am I going to take the “if you vote for Romney please just defriend me” approach.

But I am gonna say- Bullshit.

What exactly does it mean to be socially liberal? From historical/textbook perspective it means: Social liberalism is the belief that liberalism should include a social foundation. It believes the legitimate role of the state includes addressing economic and social issues such as welfare, health care, and education while simultaneously expanding civil and political rights.[1] Under social liberalism, the good of the community is viewed as harmonious with the freedom of the individual.

At 1st glance, this seems totally incongruent with the platform of the Republican party. The platform adopted at their convention earlier this year explicitly says that they want to reduce welfare programs. They want to reverse the entirety of the Healthcare Act, even those provisions which have made health coverage accessible to millions of Americans who were not able to be covered in the past. They are committed to bringing back Bush-era approaches to education which decimated quality and equity in our public schools. And they want to restrict civil rights such as a woman’s right to choose, giving LGBTQ couples and families relationship recognition and rights.

Therefore, at least in the textbook definition, you are not socially liberal if you support this platform.

So then, since most Americans aren’t using textbook definitions to govern their politics, I wanted to think deeper about what my partner’s staunch Republican Aunt or that random guy posting on Facebook from high school were trying to say.

I think they want to believe, or at least lead others to believe, that they like diversity. Or at least that they aren’t bigots. Even though their own self interests propel their vote more than the common good.

It feels like what they are saying is, sure I prefer the Republican approach to the economy, but I’m not like those Republicans who show up to Romney rallies with homophobic T-shirts or create effigies of Pres. Obama swinging from a noose.

When really, buying into the Republican approach to the economy means that you care more about your personal financial interest then those who are struggling most to get by. It makes sense, candidate Romney said early this year, “I’m not concerned about the very poor. We have a safety net there.”

It means that you agree that people who work 2 or even 3 jobs at such lousy pay rates that they can still barely afford to put food on their table are victims. And that you really don’t want your tax money to help them. Because even if YOU yourself take advantage of the things that tax money provides — say roads or libraries or student loans or public parks— when poor people and people of color need food stamps or a better school it becomes a ‘handout.’

It probably means that you want to think of our country as having entered a color-blind era of racial equality. And to me, as a white person deeply committed to ending racism, that means you aren’t really willing to look at and accept the deep racial inequality that persists in our country. And that may be, though you probably wouldn’t admit it in public, you aren’t really comfortable with the idea of a Pres. who doesn’t look like you.

And while you probably love your mom, or your wife or girlfriend or sister our aunt, and you might even have binders full of women you love), you can find a way to ignore that the Republicans have been launching a serious attack on women that will only heighten if the party takes power. Defriend me or disagree with me all you like but rape is not a form of conception. Rape is not “inevitable, like the weather.” And there aren’t some rapes which are forcible and some which are consensual. Rape is always, and will always be a violent, non-consensual act committed most often, but not always against women. And I find it pretty hard for anyone to claim that standing with politicians who believe otherwise lands them anywhere within the universe of being liberal.

So go ahead and support Romney or whatever other Republican candidate you choose on November 6th. But please stop pretending that you really care about my right as a woman to make decisions about my own body and be safe from rape. Or that your choice has nothing to do with how you feel about mine and my partner’s right to create whatever kind of relationship and family we want, and have it afforded basic dignity and respect. And please stop using the term “socially liberal” when actually your vote could and will have dire consequences for poor Americans. Please and thank you.

PS I want to note that I am very, very clear that Democrats also don’t always do the right thing by the poor, women, people of color, queers, etc. To date, however, I have not heard a Dem or an Obama supporter claim their vote is fueled by being socially liberal and fiscally liberal so this blog didn’t go there.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Support the Hayward Gay Prom

This Saturday I could not be more honored to help raise funds for the Hayward Gay Prom. When I was a GSA Advisor, back in the day, we would take a van full of kids to these events. Because historically at least a handful of protesters are outside of the venue, I remember preparing the kids for what that might be like. But then when we arrived, there was a big long red carpet, a marching band, and all sorts of Pflag types yelling things like “you’re beautiful!”

The hoopla was so increcdible, I almost missed seeing the 3 or 4 idiots with their hateful signs.

The event itself was a big gay celebration of young people and I can only imagine what might have been different in my own life had there been anything remotely like this in my childhood.

So come on out to the White Horse anytime between 3 and 7 PM this Saturday for entertainment and music, community and fun. All raising funds for the prom. Hope to see you there!

SoulFire Wheelin’ for Project Eden’s Gay Prom

Saturday, May 19 3-7 PM

The White Horse Inn | 6551 Telegraph Ave, Oakland CA

$10

At 3pm, join us at the White Horse Inn for an afternoon of performances by local musicians, burlesque troupes, drag kings & drag queens. Bring extra cash for a big time raffle and tipping your favorite dancers!

Taking the stage at 3pm is The Bar Chords, a women lead Rock ‘n Roll band with soul, folk, and punk influences. (www.thebarchords.com).

Our exciting drag & burlesque cabaret will begin at 4pm and the lineup includes: Kentucky Fried Woman, Starr 69, Dorian Faust, Brock Cocker, Charley Horse, Kitty Von Quim, Brush Arbor Girls & Titland.

For more info on Project Eden’s Gay Prom held Saturday, June 9th 2012 at Chabot College in Hayward, CA Call: 510.247.8200 or go to http://www.gayprom.org/ . There is also information about donating if you can’t attend the event.

RSVP via Facebook!

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Boulevard

As an anniversary surprise, Ainsley took me to Boulevard in San Francisco. We were seated at a “romantic” table meaning we were next to each other, looking into the restaurant. But the table had a bit of an angle in it so it was also easy to chat (or gaze lovingly at each other since it was that kind of night).

First Course: Dungeness Crab Salad. With Blood Oranges, Hearts of Palm, Grapefruit and  Lemon.

Since the dungeness season was drawing to a close, I kind of had to get the Dungeness crab salad. It was awesome. The citrus paired perfectly, and the mix of small crab with a few large pieces of crab legs was divine.

Ainsley, got: Maine Lobster. With a house made type of sausage that had a special name I’m forgetting.  Also a they-knocked-It-out-of-the-park dish!

MAIN COURSE TIME. I had the Sea Bass with fingerling potatoes,  and breaded/fried brussel sprouts. The crispy brussels had a delicious breading going on. And the fish was perfectly cooked. The dish was solidly good but not a knockout.

Ains on the other hand had:

Which was a lamb TBone with lots of fancy accompaniments. He raved about it.

Then came the perfect ending:

This dessert rocked my world. It was described as a Candy Bar cake so layers were perfect representations of say the Nougat from a snickers or the crunch from a Twix. And the two little cookies were homemade rice crispies and cocoa crispies in a wafer kind of form. And the glass of dessert wine was a perfect partner. It was awesome.

Would highly recommend Boulevard for a special treat or special occasion date.

Posted in Drinking, Eating | Leave a comment

Valentines Surprise.

Valentines Day hasn’t been my jam since middle school. I always felt like it was a holiday invented to sell shit and make people feel bad if they were single (so that they would be compelled to buy more shit that might make them feel/look better).

My Valentines Grinchiness has been tolerated by my sweetie who, turns out, is pretty much just a fool for holidays. His birthday and Christmas reign at the top but he loves pretty much all holidays.

This morning, I woke up with this lingering sinus infection and thought about staying in bed. I was a little surprised that my sweetie actually encouraged me to just take a hot shower and go in for at least a bit. I had a fleeting thought- He must have sent me flowers or something. 

Instead, I arrived to my office to discover this:

and from another view:

and another view:

Does it change the fact that Valentines Day remains a capitalist-driven ploy? No.

But it sure does make my heart glow with love for my best friend and my B’sheret. Happy Valentines Day!

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment