Living in America

On Friday, American rapist Brock Turner will be released from prison after serving 3 months of his 6-month (piss poor) sentence for raping an unconscious woman behind a dumpster back in January of 2014. You can read more about it, if you’ve been living under a rock, here. Turner was caught red-handed, mid-thrust, by two passersby who chased him down when he tried to run away. One of them was so distraught by what he saw that he had trouble giving his statement to police.

Turner was charged with five felony counts, including rape of an intoxicated person, rape of an unconscious person, sexual penetration by a foreign object of an intoxicated woman, sexual penetration by a foreign object of an unconscious woman, and assault with intent to commit rape. Notice that absolutely none of those charges ever just calls what he did what it is: rape. Just. Effing. Rape.

But we live in a country that doesn’t like to call rape what it is. And in fact, Turner was found guilty of only three counts: assault with intent to commit rape of an intoxicated/unconscious person, penetration of an intoxicated person, and penetration of an unconscious person. Because somehow, penetration sounds like an accident, and “intent to commit rape” sounds like “Oh, but he only partially meant to do it.”

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I shared this earlier with a very angry post (spoiler: I’m still angry), and decided within minutes to delete it and retype something when I a) wasn’t at Walmart with no make-up on at 8:30 am, and b) had a moment to collect my thoughts.

I KNOW that a lot of you will read this and, though you will find it unfortunate, you won’t experience seething, deep-seated rage. You’ll shake your head, and you’ll go back to your normal life.

Let me explain something. I live every day believing that there is a reckoning coming for women in this country. That it HAS to be near. That there HAS to be a point where it gets better. Because the idea of “empowerment” that we’ve been fed is a complete lie, and is designed for the convenience of the oppressors, NOT for the empowerment of girls and women. This is the same lie that tells women “You can and SHOULD have it all – looks, money, career, family, time for yourself,” – as if any of us have the ability to really have it all. As if there’s something wrong when we don’t have it all. The truth: something you are juggling will always fall. Having it ALL is not empowerment, and neither are so many things women today are told to seek out.

Empowerment is NOT posting nude selfies. It is NOT throwing yourself into the machine of American Consumption so that you can become one more pretty cog amongst the many. We are not chess pieces. American society and politics do not have the right to move ME around in order to fit some agenda, whether that agenda is abortion, healthcare, freedom of speech, whatever. And I’m tired of women settling for this message – that if the media or our friends tell us “how empowering,” we are somehow inherently better off. No. That’s BS. That’s feminism gone wrong. That’s a lie. It’s a DAMN lie.

I have to demand more, and yes, I guess that’s me being “a difficult woman.” But the reality is, America does not value women – and this here? Brock Turner, in all his violating, putrid, unapologetic, sociopathic glory – this is proof. Proof positive. I want to state that again, just in case you think I misphrased it: AMERICA DOES NOT VALUE WOMEN. I don’t care if you put a (criminal) woman in the White House. I don’t care if you tell Kim Kardashian that constantly posing naked is supposed to make me feel more free. Because sure, I could be President or I could post naked selfies all day…but a man could rape me and never serve more than a few weeks of prison time, if any time at all. And during such a hypothetical trial, I would undoubtedly be dressed down by attorneys and blamed for my own assault. This is a fact, one which crosses party lines and points to the decay of American identity and furthermore, American dignity.

I cannot change this. And as amusing as it sounds when I find myself deeply angered and hurt by this kind of thing, I don’t think women should have to resort to shooting their abusers/assaulters in the face in self-defense. It wouldn’t bother me, and it’d be interesting to see what would happen if that became common place, sure, but I don’t want women to have to resort to that. I just think our world is messed up. I don’t see why it’s asking so much for America to insist on something better for women who are victimized in this way. I don’t see why it’s asking so much that a man’s life be ruined the same way his victim’s life is ruined – that is, unless his life somehow has more value in this country.

But wait.

That’s the problem. And that’s the message. That’s the message I’ve been hearing for 32 years. Thank God I know different, and have the opportunity to raise my boys differently. But I cannot sit here and tell you that it softens the blow, to watch this man walk free.

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2,162. That’s how many days of you I will have lived when I drop you off tomorrow morning for your first day of kindergarten.

That’s how many days of Russ there have been in my life. Granted, I’m not counting the 156 days between finding out you were a boy – knowing you would be named Russ – and the day I met you. I will never forget that day. You were 7 lbs. 14 oz. You were 21.25 inches long.

Introducing... :)
I often tell first time moms that though I love every single one of my children to the point that it hurts a little bit, they should really soak up that first baby. Because there is nothing like your first – because you are both like new people in a way, and something is forever altered in a mom’s head and heart when she sees her baby for the first time. She doesn’t even know it. She won’t know it for a while, sometimes. And the sight of you, that was my moment, the one where everything in the universe became just a little bit different. Almost 2,162 days ago.

I’m not afraid of tomorrow, and from what I can tell, you’re only slightly afraid – a normal, healthy amount of nerves. The kind of heightened anxiety that smells of freshly sharpened pencils. It won’t be your first day of school by any stretch, but it will be your first day of a place that doesn’t stay little. Such is the magic of preschool – even on the very last day, preschool children still feel “little.” But what begins tomorrow will bear little resemblance to the end. By the time you are done here, in elementary school, you will be 11 years old and you will look, walk, talk, and basically do just about everything a little differently. A little less like a little boy and a little more like a teenager. And if I’m being honest, I’m not afraid of tomorrow, but I’m afraid of that day, lurking off in the future at some undetermined point, when you become different.

I will certainly shed some tears tomorrow, but that won’t be anything different at all. And no matter how much you change or grow, you will always be the person who made me a mother, who I love so deeply that it – again – hurts just a bit. Tomorrow is an easy “first,” comparably speaking, and I realize that. The wisdom and honesty of older, more experienced moms tells me that – that tomorrow is a happy day, one to celebrate.

There will be countless other firsts before you leave for college, sometime around day 7,000. For now, I will relish these little moments where you still want to snuggle, where you still call me “mommy” instead of “mom,” and where you still hug on your bear Charlie at bedtime. Because tomorrow is just one day, in a lifetime where there will never be enough days of you – and I know that it will all pass too quickly for my soft heart.

And life just keeps moving

Rapunzel, Rapunzel, Let Your Freak Flag Fly

Hi, my name is Becky and I have an obsession. With vegetables. This can be really upsetting to my social life, as in past cases like “That Time Becky Ordered Broccoli On Pizza At A Company Lunch,” or “That Time I Spilled Green Smoothie In My Car.”

It started when I was in utero, really (my mom notoriously craved unripe peaches during her pregnancies with her four totallynormalcoughcough kids), was nurtured in the garden of tomatoes and okra that I grew as a child, and has absolutely exploded during my pregnancies with my own kids.

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Do you see the shame on this child’s face for having just eaten raw okra straight off the plant? Didn’t even wash it. The nerve…

I’ve often mused about poor little Russ, who never got a lot of the standard ice cream (he got more than his fair share of pickles), cake, and other pregnancy cravings. In fact, I’m fairly certain his entire left leg is made of romaine lettuce and tomatoes, and easily pounds upon pounds of basil. So. Much. Basil. To the point that, with contractions 5 minutes apart, we stopped for pizza with extra basil on the way to the hospital the night of September 14th, 2010. An aside: Pizza as your last meal before having a baby? Not a fabulous idea. Please don’t do that to yourself.

With Henry in 2014, it was much the same. With Odin…no real change. Maybe if I’d had girls, it would’ve been a different craving, but my boys just seem to love kale, brussels sprouts, and all manner of cruciferous delight.

Most people are familiar with the hair part of the Grimms Brothers’ fairytale “Rapunzel,” but that’s missing the point. The point is really that the whole reason the long-locked girl gets that crazy name is because of her mom’s crazy cravings when she is pregnant with her – for a specific herbaceous alpine vegetable known as “rapunzel.” It’s technically campanula rapunculus and certainly doesn’t look so yummy, but ya know…tomato/Solanum lycopersicum, potato/Solanum tuberosum. I figure if the Bros G themselves knew enough about pregnancy cravings to include this detail, then it must be fair to assume that any physiological need or shortfall could result in a craving like that. 

So this is that blog that includes a healthy recipe. Yes, I know…given the last few posts, you may have been led to believe that my name is Betty (not Becky) and all I do is bake cakes. Untruths! Though Betty was allegedly on the short list of names my parents pondered (alongside Courtney), most of what I make has some sort of effort towards wholesomeness and nutrition factored in. I also really don’t like going over budget on grocery shopping. So this makes me obsessive about using all the leftovers I possibly can – which is where this “veggie taco salad” comes from.

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This is what happens when you don’t want to spend money, have about 3/4 c. of leftover ground beef with taco seasonings already in it, just bought a TON of leafy greens at the store over the last 2-3 days, and can audibly hear your own stomach growling.

I don’t have a catchy name for it, nor do I have a real “recipe,” but suffice to say it is a pile of slightly sauteed curly kale and shredded brussels sprouts (seasoned with salt and pepper, paprika, and garlic) used as a landing pad for all things yummy and taco-esque. It was really scraped together in a hurry, believe me, because it was either this or the dreaded hot dogs my son eats for lunch (yes, I’m that mom, nice to meet you). The toppings included:

  • Chopped green onion
  • My favoritestever Rick Bayless Frontera Roasted Tomato Salsa (which you can buy at Publix and it kicks the a$$ of every other storebought salsa on the planet)
  • Seasoned taco meat (I used 85/15 that’s on sale for $2.99/lb at The Fresh Market every Tuesday, because I’d rather pay less and skim the fat myself. It was cooked and drained, then seasoned with cumin, paprika, salt, pepper, chili powder, and garlic powder).
  • Diced avocado. Because I’d rather have avocado than cheese any day of the week.
  • Sunflower seeds
  • Sour cream…mmmmm….
  • Lime Juice & Cilantro

I could’ve kept going with the toppings bonanza, but my stomach was actually starting to eat itself and Baby Odin doesn’t like that, so I stopped there. Volume eating (i.e. pounding mass quantities of low-calorie, nutrient-dense foods like a mutha-huggin’ boss) is definitely my new hobby.

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So my point in all this, for anyone wanting or needing to up their produce intake is this: Buy the stuff and, if you need to do so, prep it! Then get creative. Yes, you will have some duds. You will have a few meals you’ll sit down to where you’re like “What the eff did I just make?” But thanks to Pinterest and all that, you can usually find a great way to incorporate more veggies into your life and calorie count. Not only will your pants size appreciate this, but you might just feel better and look better, too. Well, unless it’s a pregnancy craving, in which case…good luck.

And when you find yourself standing there in front of a new type of fruit or vegetable, curiously contemplating if there’s even a way to prepare that (this is how I feel about kohlrabi basically every time I see it), just think of me and my mom. It’s 1990. In the Piggly Wiggly on 4th Avenue in Conway, South Carolina. And this is the conversation in which my six year old self begs my overworked and exhausted mother to buy me an ARTICHOKE. Just an artichoke. Just so I can try it. My mom, ever the green-peach-craving phenom, managed to make that impulse-purchase artichoke seem like the coolest, most adventurous food ever. You can probably create something pretty awesome, too.

Until the next kitchen escapade,

I'm kind of failing at this whole blog thing: an update.

 

Let Them Eat…whatever.

I’ll be honest, I’m not a huge fan of sweets. For someone who bakes fairly regularly – and this is much like my mom and older sister – I can have a bite or two and be done. We’ve mused that perhaps making the stuff is exhausting enough to preclude us from having the energy to eat it, but that’s not really it. Something happened during my first pregnancy and whereas I’d always assumed I’d crave ice cream or something, all I really wanted was tomatoes with basil, salt, and pepper and big piles of crunchy salad greens (especially romaine – the colder, the better). I recall waking up one morning at maybe 13-14 weeks pregnant with Russ, during a week where Jonathan was on a project site in Aiken, and I couldn’t think of a single breakfast food I wanted more than chopped romaine with caesar dressing. Which is obvs weird. Hey, you do what you gotta do.

So, that kind of weird palate has been a recurring theme since then, not just with babies #2 and #3, but in my normal non-knocked up life as well. From pickled okra to massaged kale (Google it, I promise it’ll make more sense) to egg salad, I’m not sure it’ll ever change unless we were to get a surprise girl (and no…that is not in the plan at this time, thanks). But while I don’t eat many sweets, the boys love them and I prefer to make them at home where I can control cost and ingredient quality a little more.

Now, this is not a “diet” recipe, I’m just putting that out there. *ahem* And can I just add that this recipe came together kind of by accident? I had intended on adapting one of my favorite recipes from Cooking Light, Butterscotch Blondies – but alas, adding sweet potatoes and changing the amounts of the ingredients to make a thicker bar all somehow yielded more of a moist cake effect, less of a dense, chewy “blondie” texture. Technically speaking: I effed up this recipe.

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See what I mean? Definitely not a flat, dense blondie…but not quite a cake. What happened here? I’m still not sure.

Actually, it’s really a weird cake, I’m gonna be honest with you – somewhere in between the denseness of a blondie/brownie, not quite fluffy like a cake. This “cake” is the Gary Johnson to the blondie denseness of Hillary or the puffed up, airy quality of a fluffy Donald Trump. It is the Independent Party of Desserts. And I’d need a pastry chef to explain why (which I am not). Oops.

See, part of my problem is that I don’t look at recipes as scripture. I tend to pick and change things and experiment, which is fun until you end up with an accident you can’t explain. Oh well. Thankfully, it still tastes amazing. Which is lucky, cause I phoned. it. in. I present for you The Recipe Formerly Known As Sweet Potato Blondies, which I’ll now just call Accidental Sweet Potato Cake (with Maple Icing-Glaze).

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3 c. all purpose flour
2 1/2 cups firmly packed light brown sugar
3 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1.5 sticks of butter (unsalted) – yes, that’s a lot of butter, shut up about it.
1 tsp. vanilla extract
Dash of cinnamon
5 eggs, beaten
1 c. cooked sweet potato, mashed

Combine flour, brown sugar, baking powder, and salt. Set aside and heat a small metal skillet or pot over medium heat. Place butter in a pan/pot and allow it to melt. Now, pay close attention to the next part:

If you’re not familiar with “browned butter,” you darn sure outta get familiar because it’s an amazing addition to basically anything from mashed potatoes to baked goods – but there’s a definite art to it!). Butter will foam up once and settle down before foaming up and bubbling again. This process will take 5-6 minutes, at which point you will notice the butter starting to turn an amber-brown hue. Once it reaches a light caramel color, immediately get the butter off the heat, out of the pan, and into a bowl to stop the cooking process. (This process is 5-6 minutes of being VERY hands on, so get your duckies lined up before you start or it’s gonna be a zoo (i.e. my house) and you’re gonna have burned – not browned – butter. Gross.)

Combine browned butter with vanilla, beaten egg and mashed sweet potato, stirring with a whisk. Pour wet mixture over flour mixture; stir until combined. Scrape batter into a 9×13 nonstick / sprayed pan. Bake at 350° for 30 minutes or until a toothpick or knife comes out clean.

Maple Icing:
3 tbsp. butter
1/3 c. maple syrup
1.5-2 c. powdered sugar
1 tsp. vanilla extract
Dash of cinnamon


I made this in the microwave because 5-7 minutes of browning butter is strenuous enough. My back hurts. Is it nap time yet??

In a microwave safe bowl or Pyrex, melt the butter for 30-45 seconds. Add maple syrup and return to the microwave for 30-45 seconds or until its bubbling (popping…whatever, the inside of my microwave looks like a post-apocalyptic battle ground). Add powdered sugar, vanilla, and cinnamon and whisk until thick but smooth. You may need to adjust the powdered sugar up to get the right consistency. You want it to thickly coat a spatula and not be too watery, but it’s also not quite a true “cake frosting.” Somewhere in the middle. Like a third party candidate.

Spread that fence-straddling icing on that cake and enjoy! 🙂