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I’ve never been really patriotic. I actually began protesting the pledge of allegiance in High School, when I no longer felt that I could rightfully pledge my allegiance to the United States. I truly believed in peace and felt that the United States did not share a common interest.

Recently, however, several things have begun changing my appreciation level for the United States. Among them being this small thing called asylum. Asylum is the right of persons to live free from government and social persecution and the responsibility of countries that profess freedom and democracy to provide shelter and safe haven from that persecution. I have been processing asylum applications with my professor. The stories I read are horrendous accounts of rape, violence, erroneous fines, and often murder, faulty imprisonment and torture.

I read first hand accounts of domestic violence. Women who are beaten and raped by their husbands and sometimes in-laws. But when they go to their police office for protection, they are told that they are at fault for their own abuse. Sometimes, they are even fined.

In some situations, the government plays a direct role in persecuting individuals, especially based on sexual orientation, or in a particular instance where a party official decided that he wanted to marry a young girl, who didn’t want to marry him back. Because of the political weight the man carried, her family was subject to fines, beatings and raids by the local police and her boyfriend was sent to an unknown prison on trumped up charges. I wonder if the party official really thought that was a way to win a girl…

So I read these cases, and though I haven’t met the people who have experienced these tragedies, I really feel for them. I have a new found respect for the United States, where even though the police service isn’t perfect and still does not document cases of domestic violence and sexual assault properly, at least they don’t fine and imprison based on some party official’s desires. Even though I still can’t pledge allegiance with a full heart, I still am thankful, in my own way for the United States and for the limited freedoms that we are able to enjoy. So even though the United States has been the most violent country in the history of the world with the highest record of overseas wars… and even though U.S. through off the colonial yoke, only to be the internal colonizers of Native Americans… and even though the U.S. despite it’s rhetoric of multiculturalism still promotes monocultural hegemony… I am still thankful that I can write all of those things and not be thrown into prison.

So Happy Birthday America, and just for you a tribute in Red, White, and Blue.

Blue Tortilla Espanola with Garden Tomatoes

1 1/2 c. medium quality olive oil

2-3 organic purple potatoes, sliced thinly

1/2 medium onion, chopped

4-5 cloves garlic

6 eggs

1 garden-ripe tomato

Slice your potatoes thinly, I did this with a sharp knife, but you could also use a mandolin.

Heat the oil in the pan and allow it to get hot, but not too hot, about 4 minutes, medium high flame. Add your potatoes in small batches. They are done when they are soft and they turn a lighter shade of blue. This step looks a little bit like some type of sea life. Drain potatoes using a fry sieve or a colander over a bowl. Keep the oil.

Fry the onions and garlic in the same oil until they are translucent, but not brown. Drain in your sieve or colander and reserve the oil.

Whip your eggs together.

Add the potatoes and onions. Let these sit for about 15 minutes to allow the flavors to meld.

Put 1-2 Tbs of your reserved oil back into the pan. Heat for about 1-2 minutes (so the eggs don’t stick) and pour the potato egg mixture into the pan. Scrape the eggs into the middle as if you are cooking an omelet. Add your sliced tomatoes on top here. Once the eggs seem firm and the bottom golden brown, you are ready for the flip.

To perform the flip, loosen the edges of your tortilla and invert a plate over the pan. In one motion, flip the entire plate/pan over so that the tortilla is now on the plate. Slide it back, gooey side down into the pan. Cook for about 4-5 minutes more until both sides are a nice golden brown but not burned. Invert onto a clean plate (so that your tomatoes are on top) and serve at your favorite 4th of July brunch, BBQ, or party!

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Wedding Picnic Gift

Just when I’ve written that I don’t have time to craft, I start again!!!

This weekend, we attended to lovely S and D wedding! The ceremony was one of the most beautiful and meaningful weddings that I have ever seen! I loved the beautiful ceremony set up and the cute flower girls!

We usually purchase things from couple’s registries, but this time we were late, and many things had been purchased for the new couple already… never fear, we are creative. And, since I’m recently on summer break, I thought… let me see what I can come up with.

One of the gifts that we really enjoyed receiving at our wedding was a picnic backpack: a kit complete with plates, utensils, and a wine bottle opener. I thought I would try to replicate the picnic kit with a bag that I found at the local Forever 21, perfect for teens and perfect for weddings! But I didn’t just want a bag, I needed to add in pockets, but how? Well, I had a spare pair jeans laying around which needed to be repurposed, I thought the pockets would be perfect for utensils, no?

So, I stitched in the jeans to the side of the bag, leaving open the top, perfect fit for plates! Next, I wanted a pocket on the other side, so I went to my local thrift store to choose a good pair, not too big for the bag. I stitched the pockets to hold slots for utensils. Stitched it into the bag… and voila!

A picnic bag fit for two. Outfitted with a set of utensils and plates, a bottle of wine and some fine chocolate and snacks. I finished the bag with a strip of jeans as a fabric tie. I hope the happy couple enjoys wonderful picnics and wonderful lives together!

Well, google strikes again with an easy to complete website project. I’ll be recording all of our adventures in China via this website. Please check it out and give me any comments or feedback you might have.

Edible Experiments is a series designed to test out recipes from various blogs, websites and cookbooks. Enjoy!

Readers, if you are like me, you would never have guessed what recipe this first edible experiment post will feature. But, this was a compelling experiment and I wanted to give it a try.

I regularly read several gluten free blogs for meal ideas, support, and information. One of my favorite blogs to read is Karina’s Kitchen. She has beautiful photographs and almost all of her recipes have turned out great. In fact, you may find that I regularly try out her recipes and may feature them with this series. After being introduced to delicious Asian-Mexican Fusion, I was itching to try out my hand at some of my own fusion. Then I stumbled across this recipe for Turkey Meatballs with Asian Noodles, which simply screamed “try me!” So what could I do? Try them I did. Check out the results.

Delicious! First, according to her recipe, Karina calls for a blend of three herbs: mint, cilantro, and parsley. Unfortunately, I didn’t have the mint on hand; I have yet to cultivate mint in my porch pots. So, I left it out. I use Trader Joes Turkey, which is affordable and guaranteed hormone-free. For bread-crumbs, I used part of a loaf I mixed up in my bread maker. I found it reasonably easy to form the meatballs, although, I may have made them a bit large and both the Musician and I ended up cutting them up to distribute equally with our pasta. For noodles, again Trader Joes was my hero, since they have Thai-style rice noodles. Making the trek to Asian supermarkets is well worth it, but we have been trying to ride our bikes to the grocery store, so TJ’s it is! Everything else, we did according to her recipe. In the end, I found the noodles a bit dry and added in a bit more Tamari and sesame oil over the top.  If I were to make it again I would make the meat a day ahead since the flavors were very strong and didn’t quite meld in a nice way I would have liked them too. Leftovers were perfect however, and the meatballs kept quite well. Rice noodles are not known for their longevity however, so plan accordingly.

Overall, a tasty treat fit for a dinner party or gathering of friends, a bit complicated for a weeknight dinner, and made great leftovers. In short, Turkey Meatballs with Asian Noodles gets a strong recommendation from our trailer.

School’s Out!

The smell of BBQ is in the air, the sound of children playing can be heard drifting from my windows throughout the day. It’s 11:00AM and I’m still in my bathrobe, and I’m working on Doubled Up. What is wrong with this picture!? I’m out of school!! Holy Cow! What am I going to do with 3 glorious months of freedom?! We began this blog to chronicle our life together in our single wide trailer, our attempts at living high on the hog while going low on the budget and simply trying to figure out how to live our first year of married life together. It’s hard to believe that it’s almost been a year already! Let me tell you want we are going to do with our summer!

1. Weddings, weddings and more weddings! We are at that age when all of our friends are getting married, we’ve already been to one, and we have 3 this summer. Expect to see some post about weddings, gifts, and other fun marriage-y things.

2. Working (sort of), I continue to put in hours for my professor and chip away at her research book project on asylum applicants. Someday, I may tell you more about it.

3. Travel! We’re going to China! We’re going to an area in Hunan Province to do research/language learning/and potentially replicate an NGO’s methods (very much in the future). I’m not sure how much I’ll be able to post about my trip here because some of the information that we will be looking at is of a sensitive nature. We’re so excited to go on our first international trip as a couple! (well besides our Honeymoon!!!)

4. Crafts/food/fun! With summer comes a little bit more time, so we are looking forward to those longer days and enjoying our porch. We try to some of our own food, and I’m documenting the process with photos.

5. Our First Anniversary. We’ve been really blessed with each other and this summer, July 11, marks our first year. I hope to share somethings about our first year with you all.

I spoke to my friend and lovely host of The Gifted Blog today about her series tutorial tryouts. I’ve always admired her for her unique ideas and decided to co-opt this idea for our own blog here. While I don’t really have time to be super crafty, I do have time to cook! (Well, okay mostly I make time to cook so I can eat, which I always have time for!) Thus, this is a new series of posts to document my trials of various recipes floating around on the internet. Also, this maybe news to some of our readers: I am gluten free, which means I don’t eat any wheat, barley, or spelt. I do sometimes eat oatmeal in small quantities, so all the recipes I try are gluten free. However, with a few quick shifts, they can all be adapted to suit any diet.

So what do you guys think? What should I call this series?

Here’s a hint at the first post of this series…

A Growing Garden is a photo series documenting progress in the garden.