Monday, October 13, 2014

Use Leftover Pilaf Rice to Stuff Bell Peppers

Mixed bell peppers by Adamophoto.

I love finding ways to reduce waste and, accordingly, to turn letovers into new, yummy concoctions. Recently I had some Greek pilaf rice leftover from a Greek dinner I prepared for a friend and myself. Then inspiriation hit: Stuffed Bell Peppers!

Though the pilaf was lemon-chicken flavored, it mixed well with some browned ground turkey and tomato sauce. I cleaned four giant red and green bell peppers from a local fresh fruit & veg stand. I then cut off the tops in such a way there was room to stuff them, as well. I cored/seeded the peppers (tops, too) and then proceeded to stuff them with the cooked rice mix.

Once the tops were stuffed, I carefully placed them on top of the stuffed peppers. I placed them all in a shallow baking dish with about an inch or so of water. I baked them for about an hour and a half at 350 degrees. I know that seems a little longer than the usual cooking time, but these were GIANT peppers! They were still very raw in places at the hour mark.

You can tell they are done when you can poke them with a fork at the thickest part and it slides right in. The peppers may darken or look a little browned/burned in spots, but that is ok. It adds a great smoky flavor without the burned crunch/dryness.

The end result of my experiment was a tasy, keeper-recipe and gave new life to the leftover rice.

You can also stuff bell peppers with leftover meatloaf or other leftover rice dishes. Some people like to add cheese to their stuffed bell peppers.

What creative things do you do with your leftovers?

Thursday, October 9, 2014

The Beautiful and Messy Great American Melting Pot of Diversity

Image by Chance Agrella,

Growing up, I loved the Schoolhouse Rock educational shorts that ran on the Saturday mornings with the regular cartoon schedule. The catchy tunes helped me on more than one occasion through my educational pursuits. To this day, I can recite the Preamble to the United States Constitution because I learned the Schoolhouse Rock song for it.

One of the great songs from that time was about the Great American Melting Pot. I loved the song because it stressed how 'we' come from all corners of the world and here, in this great country, become one new, stronger people. We are built upon the principles our Founders and Framers instituted, with the freedom and encouragement to add the great spices of a plethora of viewpoints, religions, races, cultures and more into the mix. It is because we embrace this melting pot style that we are free.

Unlike multiculturalism, which is based in divisiveness and special treatment for special classes, the melting pot promotes unity and tolerance. Ever heard "United we stand; divided we fall"? The melting pot unites us and makes us strong.

When you look at the multicultural messes abroad you will see divisiveness, special classes and nations committing suicide by slowing killing themselves from within by going from being one nation to a mini united nations. They have essentially ceded their soil to many other nations and cultures -and not even a single shot was ever fired.

Under the melting pot framework, we learn to live together in relative, messy harmony not as a collection of different people, but as a group of one. What are Americans? We are Catholics, Jews and Hindus. We are white, black and brown. We are short, tall, skinny, fat, blonde, brunette, red-head and bald. We are young, old and middle-aged. We are male and female. We are as diverse as the planets in the universe but we are still one people. We are one family.

Like every family, we have the crazy uncle, the nagging aunt and the trouble maker cousin. We have our squabbles, but you mess with us and ours, as in 9/11, and you watch how fast we unite to help one another and kick yer butt!

This melting pot design demands we show true tolerance for one another. It requires us to learn to recognize other viewpoints than our own and to join our voices together into one harmonious choir of support for the preservation of our freedoms from those in power who would strip us of them. I read something from Glenn Beck that I think really says it nicely, “Let’s stop dividing ourselves and let’s start being intellectually curious and accepting the fact that other people are going to go in a different direction. And stop trying to win and start trying to understand each other.”

We don't have to think alike to be one nation. It is because we have so many different ideas that we can find and use the best. Its how in our short time as a nation we became a world leader and powerful force in the international front. If we all thought the same, if only one opinion was allowed, we wouldn't accomplish much at all. We'd die from the lack of progress and evolution as a people and as a nation.

We will never have the 'utopia' pictured in film, "The Giver", but as illustrated so well in the movie, that is not the kind of utopia most of us would wish for, any way. Messy and difficult as it is, our diversity and resulting freedoms are the key to our peace and our joy.

Most of us hate war, hate violence, hate crime and hate negativity in general. We want to see poverty end and we want all to get the care and assistance they need when ill or in special circumstances. Our differences come from what to do about those issues but that gets taken to a whole other-worldly level when politicos and talking heads amp it all up for their own gain. They divide us to use us for their own aims and gains. We can change that.

Our messy diversity is beautiful and it is liberty embodied. It is worth protecting and worth fighting for at town hall meetings, in letters to the editor, in messages to our elected and at the ballot box.

It is within our rainbow of colors, ideas, backgrounds and beliefs that we find our strength, our wisdom, our freedom and our peace. It is our greatest asset and the chink in our amour when others turn it against us.

Like this post? Stay tuned for more in Kara's upcoming book "Beautiful, Dangerous Liberty: The True Path to Peace."

Natural Weed Killer: Quick, Easy, Cheap and Effective

image by Kevin Tietz,

I'll start of by saying I know its a little late in the season for this post, but if you are like me and want one final shot at eradicating weeds before the season ends, you might find this helpful.

At the beginning of the season I tried two applications of a "weed and feed" type product on my lawn, to no avail. I live next to other properties that are either abandoned or have a weed issue, so my property becomes a haven for the weed seeds that fly around in our canyon wind exposure.

I read about a natural solution to the problem and decided to try it. I love it! It acutally works, and long-term, too. It didn't completely eradicate all the weeds-one particular type is a nightmare to get rid of, particularly when many around me are plagued with it, too. However, this natural weed killer got rid of all the other weeds and over the long-term. I went from battling weeds on a weekly basis to only tackling the worst one and a few sprouts of other kinds twice for the rest of the season.

What is this miracle weed killer? Vinegar. Yup, plain white vinegar. I read it works best to add some dish soap to it, so it will 'stick' on the weed leaves, so I tried that variation and was pleased.

On a hot, sunny day, spray or soak your weeds with a solution of 1 gallon vinegar mixed with one ounce of any dish soap. Over the following several hours you will see them brown and shrivel. It seems to continue to work until the weed is killed, on most types of weeds. Once they are dried up and brown, you can rub them with your foot and watch them crumble and disappear. Most of my thus-attacked weeds did not return.

Now, bear in mind, this natural weed killer will kill any green life it lands on-it is not selective. If you get it on your grass or flowers, it will kill them, too. So, apply with care. I used a Powerade bottle and sqeezed the solution onto the weeds to really soak them and to control the aim better than with a sprayer. My method of application uses a lot of the solution to cover a small area, so you may need more than one gallon of vinegar to attack all of your weeds. I did.

The natual weed killer worked so well for me, others asked what I did and have been using it now, as well. It has been working for my neighbors, too. Maybe betweent the lot of us using it, we can mimize the overall weed exposure we all have.

In my area, one gallon of vinegar runs for around $3 and you can get a bottle of dish soap for $1 at the dollar store or on sale/with coupons.

If you try this, please be sure to let us know how it worked for you and any tips or tricks you discovered.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

5-Minute Healthful Sorbet You'll Love

I saw a recipe somewhere for 5-minute ice cream. I took that recipe and as always, ran with it. My own tweaking has resulted in some tasty results. My latest concoction was created using up the last of my fresh blueberries, bananas and strawberries before they went bad. I washed them, hulled the strawberries and put them all on a cookie sheet in the freezer. Yes, the bananas went in, peels and all!

Once frozen, I dropped the lot into a blender (minus the banana peels), added a tiny splash of water and about a tablespoon of powdered stevia. It took a little shaking of the blender and mushing it all down with a rubber spatula, but in less than five minutes I had my berry-banana sorbet. I shared some with a neighbor/friend who is diabetic and she loved, loved, loved it!

The general ratio for one serving of strawberry banana sorbet is one half frozen banana with about four medium to large frozen strawberries. Add only the tiniest amount of liquid (or you'll be making a beverage, not a frozen delight) and add stevia only if the concoction needs to be a little sweeter. Usually I find the fruit to be sweet enough and forego adding stevia to the mix.

With that ratio in mind, play to your heart's content to make your own fruity frozen treats. Five minutes to frozen heaven! Mmmm.

So far I have made this with various combinations of bananas, strawberries, pineapple, blueberries, raspberries and peaches. All of them turned out well, though I definitely prefer some combinations to others.

I usually only make one serving at a time since I am single and eat alone a lot, but you can make and freeze a big batch in advance if you prefer. I have tested it out. It works.

After you try this out, be sure to come back and share your recipe and results!

Friday, May 2, 2014

Two Guiding Life Principles for Sanity in an Insane World

                 *woman in photo is not me

I have two guiding principles in life that apply to many things. They do not stem from me being apathetic or rude, but from me trying to keep things in the right perspective. These two guiding principles are “I don’t give a rat’s backside” and “kiss my ass” (KMA). 

In context, someone calling me names because they don’t agree with my opinion or a belief I hold to be true would merit an “I don’t give a rat’s backside” attitude. This is because what someone else thinks of me and my beliefs is not only none of my business, but it will not cause the earth to slip off its axis. It neither steals my bike nor breaks my arm, therefore I am not going to get my knickers in a twist over it. This principle is the passive one of the set.

Conversersely, someone deciding they have some right to strip away my rights would elicit a “kiss my ass” response. This is the assertive one of the set of principles by which I live my life. This attitude can also take the form of action. Not violent action, but assertive action. I do not just ignore what is being done-I actively work against it with the KMA assertion in mind.

This assertive action is sometimes deemed as me being 'feisty' because it involves me speaking up, standing up for myself and others . . . and generally not taking crap from anyone. So be it. I'm feisty.

These two guiding principles of not giving a rat's backside and KMA help keep me sane and functional in a highly insane and dysfunctional world.

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Honeybadger says, "Lay Off My Free Speech!"

I haven't delved into politics here, but perhaps it is time that I do.

First, please allow me to indulge in a little preface to my coming commentary: I am very much an All-American Woman. I bleed red, white and blue. I love my country and my fellow Americans, even the ones with whom I vehemently disagree. You mess with an American because he or she is an American, and you will bring down my wrath upon you.

Trust me, you do not want to go there. Not ever. Have you ever seen those honeybadger videos on YouTube? Yeah, image one of those critters crossed with the Terminator. The result is me when I am really chapped off. When I 'go honeybadger' on someone, I don't stop, I am relentless and I win. Always.

This is not to say I am violent or use physical means, but I do use my feistiness, determination and bagdinator relentlessness in order to right the wrong, no matter how long it takes. Though it may not always be this way, so far it's 6-love, my favor.

This brings us to today's issue: free speech. Perhaps it has escaped the notice of some, in particular some who claim to be the tireless defenders of it, that free speech applies to all, otherwise it isn't free. Some seem to have decided that free speech only applies to those with whom they are in agreement or those who at the moment have not chapped off anyone with their words.

What part of 'free' do you self-congratulatory, bloviating, talking heads not understand?


I can't stand Bill Maher and I thought Howard Stern's show was stomach-churningly repulsive. Not once, not ever, did I call for either to be silenced or shut down. I believe in free speech, which means for all, even when its offensive to me, personally. If I want to retain the right to free speech for myself, I must also defend that same right for others-for all. [Besides which, I am adult and quite capable of changing the channel-something I suggest more people learn how to do.]

When Juan Williams was fired for comments he made, I was right in there, publically decrying the move and supporting him in his right to free speech, despite the fact that most of the time I find him to be a clueless, sycophanitc lemming. When Martin Bashir 'resigned' following his vile diatribe against Sarah Palin, again, I was right there calling him out on his vileness, but also defending his right to speak like a hateful, retromingent jackwagon.

To those who believe the opposition should be silenced, I pose this question: until when? One viewpoint never remains in power, so those you silence today will shut you down tomorrow. Is that really your idea of freedom-that our rights are determined by the whims of the nimrod who has the power at the moment?

Here's a newsflash, my friend: that is not freedom and its not in accordance, not in the least degree, with the Constitution-our law of the land. The Constitution is the only thing standing between you and me and the power-hungry, self-serving tryant-wanna-bes. It is the only thing slowing down their neverending assault on our freedoms, which they must destroy so they can have power.

Some take this not-at-all-free-speech-but-we-will-call-it-that-anyway lunacy one step further, claiming that silencing those with whom they disagree is the moral thing to do beause its in the name of 'tolerance'.

*Shaking my head*

Sometimes there just are no words.

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Word of the Week: Mudita

As a writer and avid reader, I love words and language. I came across a new word recently that I just fell in love with. The word: Mudita. It means joy, but more specifically, it means the joy one experiences vicariously for the successes and good fortune of others. It is the opposite of jealousy.

Mudita. Mudita. Mudita. I think we could use a little more [ok, a LOT more] mudita in this world, wouldn't you agree?