No Beans About It

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My familia recently introduced me to the wonders of Shameless. While watching the cold Chicago weather scenes, and in between wondering how Frank manages to stay alive season after season, I got a hankering for some chili. But not just any chili. One without beans. I know, I know, heretical but that’s the charm of me.

I haven’t had chili for a LONG time. It’s one of the few foods I remember from the foster care days when we lived with Miss Nanton in Flatbush. One of the girls Ebony (who was maybe 11) taught us how to cook it, she’d been cooking for her family for some time and I loved the simplicity of the chili served with rice.

So off I went scouring the interwebs for a recipe and after cobbling together a few, landed on one that packs a punch heat-wise and is simply delicious. This recipe is great served by itself, over rice or pasta, and also freezes well. That last part is a miracle if you’re a lazy cook like me.

 

INGREDIENTS

  • 2lbs Ground Beef (I buy the 1lb grass fed packs)
  • 1 medium sized onion, chopped
  • 2 green bell peppers, diced
  • 3 tablespoons chili powder
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 tablespoon cumin
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 teaspoon Tony Chachere seasoning
  • 1 can organic tomato paste
  • 1 can whole, peeled organic tomatoes (roughly chopped)

 

GET COOKING

  1. In a dutch oven, start browning the ground beef on medium heat. About halfway through, add the onions, peppers and Tony Chachere seasoning.
  2. Once the beef is browned, add the tomatoes and tomato paste and stir. I usually let it meld together for 2-3 minutes.
  3. Add the rest of the spices and let that come together for another 3-4 minutes. I then taste test (with another spoon!) and adjust the spices to the heat level I like.
  4. Cook on low heat for 25-30 minutes uncovered.
  5. Enjoy!

#TheStruggle (aka 2016 US Election)

xf8gmvvdwya-john-chavez.jpgI’ve been doing a lot of reading about rural and blue collar voters within the past week. Specifically, how Trump’s campaign honed in on this data insight almost immediately and how Hillary’s didn’t despite this strategy working in her Senate campaign. I’ve read tons of articles that shared themes of feeling ignored and disenfranchised as technology assumes an astounding role in our lives. I’m very much struggling with my bias towards this inaction to prepare for this technology invasion, but I also empathize with the high cost of this disruption to lives built on a different business model.

I spend a lot of time researching the implications to our society and work models brought about by the Internet of Things, Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning and all those sexy tech topics. I wanted to share some hard truths we all need to face no matter how we classify ourselves:

1: Neither candidate presented a cohesive strategy, or even a basic roadmap, for how the Fourth Industrial Revolution is changing our lives, and how drastically different it will be within 10-20 years. There was very little attention paid to sharing a plan for our nations technology infrastructure and cybersecurity preparedness. The Internet of Things will unleash cyber attacks that will cripple our nation starting with disrupting health and financial services. The White House/DOT rolled out proactive federal guidelines for self-driving cars in September and neither candidate addressed how this will impact our infrastructure.

2: There is a coming displacement of the value of the blue collar worker by robots and automation. It is a great disservice to not prepare them for this shift by re-training them to think in new ways for new jobs. A BCG report on robotics said that industries generally ramp up automation when using robots become 15% cheaper per hour than employing humans (p.18)! FIFTEEN PERCENT. Why would a manufacturer pay a human welder $25/hr when they could pay a robot $2/hr? Self-driving freight trucks are being tested right now in CA, this could put 1.7 million truckers out of work within the next 10 years.

3: There is a coming displacement of the value of the white collar worker via artificial intelligence and automation. There is already disruption to the medical, legal and journalism fields. Although halted, Johnson and Johnson developed an automated way to deliver anesthesia, IBMs Watson can diagnose lung cancer faster than a doctor can and with higher accuracy, software solutions can scan millions of data points within minutes and create actionable reports, etc. We too need to re-train our brains to think in new ways for new jobs.

4: For-profit companies will choose automated business models over human ones because the economics will be favorable to their bottom line.

5: It is estimated that 65% of children in primary school will ultimately end up working in new jobs that don’t exist yet. How are we preparing for that?

I don’t know what the answer is, but the adoption rates for newer technologies has exceedingly outpaced previous innovations in many sectors and will disrupt our lives in beneficial *and* undesirable ways.

I want a POTUS that gets that.

Anniversary Stuffing

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Some of you may be surprised to know that I was pretty assertive in college. Just kidding. Anyways, one of my favorite stories is how the MC23 crew came about. Janine I’d known since youth group in HS, and Anna and I met on the very first day of college so they were part of the initial wolfpack. As our senior year loomed, we knew we needed to bounce the hell off campus and get an apartment but we needed a 4th member of the wolfpack so the budget was easy to maintain. Casey started attending SEC I think the second half of our freshman year and she was pretty wild for bible college, she had a belly ring and sometimes she wore shirts that showed it. After she and a group of friends were hauled in before the Peer Review Committee because they’d broken curfew and climbed back into their dorm rooms, I knew she was part of my tribe. We never really chatted before this, but lo and behold when we needed a 4th member to room off campus, I picked up the phone, dialed her room and barked “HEY YOU WANT TO LIVE WITH US?”. She always says that she has no idea why she said yes, but she did. Yelling, that’s the charm of me. Our senior year kicked off what has been an enduring friendship and I love her to pieces.

I’m not entirely sure of what kicked the kerfuffle off but at some point years later we got into an argument and I stopped talking to her. But in the spirit of thanksgiving, we reunited and she made us dinner. Ever since then, we’ve called this holiday our anniversary and really her stuffing  recipe is the glue that holds us together. This simple recipe really works and showcases the flavors and I absolutely love it. Happy anniversary Casey, I have no idea why you put up with me but I adore you for it!

MATERIALS: chopping board, saute pan, chef knife, baking pan

INGREDIENTS

  • Pepperidge Farm Stuffing (I prefer the Onion & Sage)
  • 1 medium onion
  • 3 stalks of celery
  • 2.5 cups organic chicken stock
  • 1 pack Jimmy Dean’s Premium Pork Sausage
  • 1 stick of Butter (I like Clover Stornetta Farms Salted Butter)

DIRECTIONS

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Cook the sausage over medium heat, making sure to crumble it while cooking. While this is cooking, dice the onion and celery.
  3. When the sausage is cooked, transfer to a bowl and melt a stick of butter in the same pan. Add the onions and celery and let that cook down to a crisp-tender state. I like to do this over low heat, takes about 5-10 minutes. Once you remove this mix, throw the stock into the pan and heat it up to boiling.
  4. Spread the stuffing mix into a baking pan (I have this one from David Burke). Add the sausage crumbles, onion/celery mix and the warmed up stock and mix well.
  5. Bake for 30 minutes while covered, then bake uncovered for another 10-15 minutes to crisp it up.

Easy Chicken Fried Rice

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(Photo Credit)

Trinidadian culture, especially food, is heavily influenced by the Chinese. I grew up wearing the cutest Chinese dresses and pants suits (much like HRC!), eating chow mein, char siu pork/chicken, wontons and my favorite chicken fried rice. When I was a kid vetsin aka MSG was an ingredient, but obviously MSG has been banned. Here’s my quick and easy version whenever I want a piece of home.

INGREDIENTS

  • 1-2 cups parboiled long grain rice (I like Uncle Ben’s)
  • 1 cup diced carrots
  • 1 cup diced green bell pepper
  • 1 cup red or yellow diced bell pepper
  • 1 cup sweet peas
  • 1 rotisserie chicken breast shredded w/o skin (love Mollie Stone’s chicken)
  • Soy Sauce (Gluten-Free alternative: Tamari)
  • Sesame Oil

 

DIRECTIONS

  1. I like to cook the rice the night before, and let it sit overnight with about 1/4 cup soy sauce mixed in. A rice cooker would be ideal here too.
  2. Add sesame oil to the pan, enough to coat the pan. This heats quickly so watch it carefully. I’ve been wanting to try avocado oil as that has a very high burning point, and coating the veggies in sesame oil but haven’t branched out yet. I alternate the sesame oil with hot chili oil too as I like it spicy.
  3. Add the carrots and bell peppers and let it cook for about 3-5 mins. The goal is to get it soft, but with a slight crunch. You don’t want soggy veggies in this.
  4. Add the chicken and warm up about 1-2 minutes.
  5. Add the rice and mix all the ingredients, I also add more sesame oil and soy sauce at this point to add flavor and color. I sometimes add a tiny bit of garlic powder (approx. 1 tsp.) depending on my taste test.
  6. Add the peas last and let that warm up and you’re done!

Options: you can substitute shrimp or even tofu for protein, and for veggies I sometimes add snap peas, edamame, white onion. Super easy right?!

Life Soundtrack: Summer 2016

85azoyt_u1i-pascale-amez.jpgWas I the only one waiting with bated breath to see what Riley Curry would do at the Game 7 press conference? That’s fine, Riley and I don’t care about opinions.

Life updates: incredibly happy at home, super happy at work, my nephew is still a menace and I am the most content I’ve ever been. I commute to work via a boat. That’s right people, a boat that lets you purchase adult libations after 5PM. I am WINNING at life.

Filed under annoyances: I felt like I understood Snapchat and then they decided to monetize it and now I am plum SOL bc yo no comprende how to use the Discover tab. But I am still hip and happening, as evidenced by this fun lipstick from my Sephora Play box. And also evidenced by The Mindy Project somehow featuring the happenings of my life on a weekly basis. I see you rolling around in that Lexus Mindy! I finally got to see Rudimental this year and I danced my way to 16k steps that day.

And last, last update: I tried Bumble for a night, got 3 matches and promptly chickened out and deleted my profile. That’s a pretty big step for me so maybe there will be a “Chris Martin goofy/Persil commercial man in a tux” date in my future! That last part is for Lucy in case she is reading. Somehow she signed up for gmail and we learned of this activity when she sent us google+ invites.

Ok, on to the tunes:

Tedeschi Trucks Band: Anyhow, Right On Time featuring the stellar vocals of Mike Mattison is the one I have on repeat the most, and Hear Me is exquisite. Really, the whole album is insanely good and I can’t wait to see them in September.

Major Lazer: I am so into this group, love how he makes sure his Trini buddies are not left out. Dance away to Light It Up and All My Love featuring Trinidad’s own Machel Montano, and Be Together makes the stars align, that video is a good one.

Skrillex & Diplo: Oh man, Jungle Bae gets me moving and features Bunji Garlin, another Trinidad massive. Take U There and To U are also faves.

Ari and the Alibis: EVERYTHING. I am loving their album Dirty Little Secret from start to finish. Whatever Lola Wants segues into Phantom of the Opera and I happily sigh each time because Gerard Butler. Faves include Evening Fades and See The Light, simply stunning songs. This is an album you want to open up a good bottle of Cabernet (Blackbird Vineyards 2012 Contrarian hint hint) and just chill out on the deck. I would die the happiest girl if this band played with St. Paul and the Broken Bones. I think they are just starting to hit their stride, and I hope bigger arenas are in their future!

Other ditties making me tap my toes:

 

 

 

Spicy Mexican Meatball Soup

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Took me awhile to perfect the hack to this one, but dang if it isn’t delicioso! My original base was Marcella Valladolid’s recipe. That’s an easy one too, but sometimes I don’t have all the ingredients on hand (you know I’m lazy) and I wanted to ease up the tomato-ey flavor. This recipe is enough to last this party of one for a couple of days. You can also freeze it. I love spicy so I added more peppers, but the blend below keeps it at a nice heat level below the “holy hell this will rip my stomach lining apart” hot.

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 1/2 cup chopped onions (just buy the pre-chopped version)
  • 1/2 lb. ground sirloin
  • 1 carrot (cut into rounds)
  • 2-3 chilies (I slice 2 fresno red and leave 1 green serrano whole)
  • 1 can Rotel diced tomatoes
  • 1 can organic garbanzo beans
  • 1 yukon gold potato, cut into chunks
  • 6 cups organic vegetable stock (compare sodium as it can be surprisingly high!)
  • 1 organic zucchini
  • 1/2 cup orzo

Meatballs: Either ground sirloin or ground chicken works best, I’ve also tried the beef/pork combo and it was tasty. Season with garlic salt or adobo, Tony Chachere’s creole seasoning and some freshly ground black pepper. I don’t add a ton of seasoning as the soup itself is super flavorful. 1/2 lb. should yield about 20-25 tiny meatballs.

Directions

  1. Heat 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil in a dutch oven (this one is similar to mine) over medium high heat. Add the onions and cook until translucent, watch this as the onions can burn pretty quickly.
  2. Add the veggie ingredients and then add the veggie stock. Once the stock is added, add the canned ingredients and bring to a boil.
  3. Once boiling, lower the heat to simmer and add the meatballs and orzo. Mix well as the orzo tends to stick to the bottom. You could add more orzo but I find 1/2 cup keeps it from becoming mushy and sticking to the bottom.
  4. Cook for about 20 minutes and voila, soup for days!

Tip: Save the other 2 cups of veggie stock for re-heating. The orzo tends to get a bit bossy in this soup.

Life Soundtrack: Summer 2015 Edition

Adventure Awaits

For my zero readers, I bring to you the sounds of Summer 2015! It’s been another round of changes: started at Sprinklr (February), moved to Tiburon (June), left Sprinklr (super tough choice), started an amazing opportunity at BMC Software (September). I think I’ve got this “get comfortable with being uncomfortable” thing locked down – looking forward to settling down a bit now. When listening to any of the songs below, picture yourself driving across the Golden Gate Bridge with the roof open and the sun shining. That is how beautiful my life feels today – took a long time to get here, and I am cherishing every minute. Even the ones stuck in traffic! Side note: Prius drivers are very aggressive in the Bay Area. I think they need to relax b/c clearly Gertrude (my hybrid) is better than theirs. Apologies in advance for the many ads, you know how slick YouTube is.