Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Why no testing? (Oh crap, it's a baseball post.)

I'm listening to the news that there will be testing in the minor leagues for human growth hormone, but the Players' Union in the major leagues is protesting such a move. I think this perplexes some people because they think that they believe the union should be bending over backwards to protect the purity of the game and the majority of players who aren't using performance enhancers of some sort. I have several thoughts on the matter, so here's my guide to .... WHY THE PLAYERS' UNION DOESN'T WANT MORE TESTING! [echo answers "testing"]

1. The cynical reason: They are representing the majority of players, who are all on HGH. Unfortunately, there's little proof otherwise, and we have little reason not to be cynical about the natural state of baseball players nowadays. Anecdotal evidence from players puts the number of players using some kind of performance enhancing drug at about 40%. Yikes. That's not the majority, but what are the odds with that number that some of the users aren't in the upper levels of representation?

2. The lazy reason: The union doesn't want its players to have to do more testing. This does make a little sense. The Players' Union may feel that it's already make a big concession by approving regular, pee-in-a-cup style testing, and a blood test may just be going too far in their minds. That said, if the number above is correct, it's not like Major League Baseball has no reason to require this kind of testing. Management is hardly overstepping its bounds by requesting such a test.

3. The most likely reason: They're the Major League Baseball Players' Union and they don't listen to nobody, nohow. The Players' Union is the most powerful union in the nation, and they have baseball management by the ... well, there's no way to not put it crudely--use your imagination. It could be possible that there is no reason whatsoever and they're just flexing their massive, steroid-enhanced muscles. Face it, some people get off on that.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Quick Hits: Too much tahini!

It's Kitchen Adventures time at our house, which means that it must be Lent. I've made hummus from sprouted garbanzo beans (sprouting, by the way, is exceptionally easy in the desert), lemon-garlic pepper, fresh garlic (never too much garlic), salt, and too much tahini. Word to the wise: Never go overboard with the tahini. We also had to travel one town over (which isn't quick out here--Alpine is 30 miles away) to get a blender for it. Anyway, we slapped a shmear on some dark rye and enjoyed a distinctly Jewish dinner.

Note to self: Next time, fresh lemon and less tahini.

Meanwhile, I think I'm going back to school for an art degree specializing in photography. Which reminds me, don't forget that Chandler Photo is up and running. I've got a whole mess of new photos back from the developer, so there will be oodles of posts in the near future.

Even though I put up spring break plans and said that putting them on the blog makes them permanent plans, we're doing something other than we originally designed. We're heading to the east side of Texas to visit Chris's relatives behind the Pine Curtain. To add to the fun, my trusty camera and I will get the visual feast of four nearby national forests: Angelina, Sabine, Davy Crockett, and Sam Houston. Big Thicket National Preserve runs nearby as well. Best pack the hiking boots!

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Vegan Nutrition for Orthodox Christians: Pith

"Pith"? I don't know. I'm out of one-word titles to use.

Yet "Pith" is somehow appropriate, because here is the meat and potatoes of those insufferably long days without meat (but not potatoes): cookbooks and other resources. I mean, I can say what to eat and how to make it, but the thought of a meal of steamed veggies, unseasoned beans, and a slice of bread fill even pro-vegetarian me with dread. So now that you know how to get protein and cook beans, here's what to use to make it slightly tasty.

Two staples in your fasting cookbook collection ought to be the Veganomicon and Laurel's Kitchen. The Veganomicon is generally not recommended by Level 5 vegans for beginners, but if you're desperate for something tasty then this is your book. Laurel's Kitchen is not vegan exclusively, but it is vegetarian and has vegan recipes. It's also got a nice, pithy (ha!) section on nutrition. I covered the absolute basics, but if you want more than that then this is a good book to have. In fact, it's highly possible that it has more than you could possibly even want to know--it's a big section.

Other gems include the annoyingly hard to find Madhur Jaffrey's World Vegetarian. Also not fully vegan (though perfectly admirable), it's got lovely authentic recipes ... "authentic" meaning "hard." Still sometimes authentic means more simple than some idiotic, American, fusion version, so for that reason I recommend it. The Mediterranean Vegan Kitchen is great because it contains zero meat substitutes. I have a particular disdain for junk made from tofu that's supposed to pass for chicken or beef or something decidedly more tasty than seasoned 'fu, so this one has a special place in my heart and has for years. Also from the same author are the Italian Vegan Kitchen and the Tropical Vegan Kitchen (which covers any tropical area). I might also recommend the Great Salsa Book--the bean salsas would be fine as main courses, and the other salsa are always handy for those days when you open up a can of refried beans (lard-free, of course) and a bag of tortilla chips for dinner. Yum.

If you're feeling exceptionally evil, the authors of the Veganomicon also wrote Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World. It's just pretty to look at--can you imagine making cupcakes from it?!

For those too lazy or utterly broke to buy books, the library is an unlikely source of vegetarian cookbooks. I've filched recipes from library books many a time. Also, try the Vegetarian Resource Group recipes. Most interesting are the Egyptian recipes, which come from a Coptic Orthodox family. There are other places, but I know this website best (it existed--gasp!--10 years ago when I became vegetarian the first time).

Oh dear--I need to go bemoan how old I am now. Sunday's Meatfare, and Lent's fast approaching. Prepare yourself.