My house is NOT empty this week; it is FULL, FULL, FULL! Both of my daughters are visiting from New York and New Mexico, and thus my heart is full, too. That means my post for the Midlife Boulevard Blog Hop will be uncharacteristically short. Lucky you, my lovely readers!
A fall recipe Blog Hop is irresistible and appropriate for me to take a moment to participate in, however, because our favorite thing to do together is eat and talk around the family table. While my daughters aren’t gluten free and dairy free, my husband, son and I are. Finding recipes everyone enjoys can be a challenge, which often means my kitchen does double, sometimes triple duty.
A short-order cook this momma is not, but something I always enjoy doing for my daughters when they’re around is making their favorite soups. Soup is one of the easiest things to prepare to meet everyone’s needs.
My oldest daughter and I are the only ones who enjoy squash in the family, so an excuse is welcome to prepare and post for the Blog Hop today, my original recipe for Thai Butternut Bisque.
For my step-daughter and for my son (who is beyond thrilled to have this precious time with both of his sisters—and he doesn’t even have to share them with their husbands!) this week, my Feel Better Soup will be in order.
My wish for each of you is time with your loved-ones around a table laden with your favorite fall soup.
Original Recipe: Thai Butternut Bisque
1 large or 2 med Butternut Squash, quartered & seeded (reserve seeds)
Butter or vegan alternative
2 large shallots, plus 1/4 white or yellow onion
4 tsp peeled, minced fresh ginger
1 tsp cumin powder
Preheat oven to 400 degrees (f).
Spray large sheet pan with non-stick spray.
Place quartered and seeded squash on it, season to taste with salt, white pepper and drizzle with olive oil. You may wish to rinse, pat dry and roast the seeds. Season them with salt, pepper and a bit of cumin powder and just coat with olive oil. Roast with the squash but on a separate pan, approximately 10-15 minutes or until lightly browned. Continue to roast squash for an hour, or until easily pierced with fork.
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
Juice of 1 lime
4 - 5 cups organic free-range chicken stock (reserve the 5th cup to adjust texture)
1 can unsweetened organic coconut milk
Salt & white pepper to taste
In large sauce pan or dutch oven over medium heat, saute' shallots and onions two minutes in a drizzle of olive oil, then add the minced ginger. Continue to saute' until softened and translucent. Do not allow to dry out, adding a good tablespoon butter or vegan alternative to keep the mixture moist and to keep it from browning. Add your squash, 4 cups of the chicken stock, lime juice, cumin, and cayenne pepper. Bring to a light boil, stirring and breaking up the squash with a wooden spoon. Turn down heat and allow to simmer lightly, 10-15 minutes. With an immersion blender (or in small batches using your regular blender), puree until smooth. Return to pan, stir in the can of coconut milk and as much of the 5th cup of chicken stock as you need to achieve the desired consistency. Continue to cook for a few minutes more, or until the coconut milk is well incorporated. Add salt and white pepper to taste.
Serve as a first course, topped with fresh chopped cilantro and the toasted squash seeds, if desired. Also nice with a dollop of sour cream, Crème fraîche or greek or strained goat yogurt. Thin it down slightly, and you may enjoy it as an alternative pasta sauce over penne or ravioli, as well.
I must believe an overwhelming majority exists today versus the brave few who, more than one hundred years ago, risked their lives to hide slaves under their floors. If I didn’t, I couldn't live in this America, amid an undercurrent I can’t escape. I think about it daily, and only more so during the last several weeks of looming and actual government shutdown. Grateful for our momentary reprieve, I'm keenly aware that if we allow it, our country will soon be held hostage by insipid and racially motivated bipartisanship all over again.
We’ve come too far to watch our neighbors get away with not-so-thinly-veiled racism that has occupied the news over the last several years, certainly that which cloaked the recent government shutdown. It isn’t acceptable in polite society, or in any society. We are all human beings who must coexist on this planet. I guess this is where Enlightened Middle Mom falls to the liberal side of things. I don’t care what consensual adults do with one another in their bedrooms. I want everyone who inhabits this earth to feel like they have as much right as I do to be here, certainly the same opportunity to be a school teacher, police officer or even president. The hardworking middle deserves to be rewarded every bit as much as the entitled few.
My fear is that we haven’t seen anything yet. If we continue to rubber-stamp this attitude, I fear a woman president will be subject to even more hatred and division than we’ve seen over President Obama’s terms thus far. I saw hate delivered to the beautiful and deserving Nina Davuluri, as she was crowned Miss America. I saw loathing and rape threats thrust at Lindy West, recipient of the Women’s Media Center’s Social Media Award in New York this month, because:
“When Lindy spoke up to explain to comedians why their jokes about rape might not always be so funny, she received rape threats just for voicing her opinion on the subject,” [Jane Fonda, two-time Academy® Award-winning actress, humanitarian, activist and Co-Founder of The Women’s Media Center] said [upon presenting the award]. “Lucky for us and for everyone, Lindy hasn’t let the negativity stop her from being funny, smart and insightful about comedy, media and everything else.”
Racism is something we all must check within ourselves. Depending upon our upbringing or on the region in which we’re raised, conquering our fear and inherent tendencies toward racism or hatred might be nonexistent or it might take great effort. It is an endeavor worthy of our sincerest efforts, more than perhaps any other.
Not talking about what we’ve witnessed over the last several years won't get us anywhere. Our silence won't help the future of minorities and women in politics. Platitudes won’t tell the Tea Party that their thinly veiled propaganda absolutely will not be tolerated come the next round of budget votes. We’ve bought a paltry few weeks before we once again endure the same threat to our economy and our place in the world.
Those of us in the Enlightened Middle Majority might not be perfect, we might be works in progress where our own attitudes and mores are concerned, but we need to trust our inner voices and rumble a lot louder if we hope to further progress. We can't keep holding our breaths waiting for the next guy to stop the ruckus. Together with the likes of Senator John McCain, the “Sister Senators” and the rest of the bipartisan coalition that banded together in the interest of ever elusive progress, it will be up to the moderates, our voices and our midterm votes to prevent future economic catastrophes like the recent shutdown we witnessed. I don’t know about your family, but mine can’t take much more irrepressible division.
We have it on good authority there are more of us who have had enough than there are of them.
It seems like the appropriate time to address a response to my “Enlightened Middle Majority” post that I was shocked to find the week before I attended BlogHer’13 as a Voices of the Year Honoree in the op-ed category for precisely the post in question. I deeply wished I’d Googled “Enlightened Middle Majority” long before the night I did so as a lazy way to link to my post. I had to read Dani’s post of The Cute Conservative twice (maybe thrice), because the first time all I kept thinking was, "She said I'm a gifted writer!" She called for me to be honest, so this is me, being honest: Dani describes herself as a “bona-fide journalist,” who likely has a college education, and I'm *just* a mom, so I confess I was deeply honored by her assessment.
In light of recent events, I submit to Dani, however adorable, generous and gifted a writer she may be, that it is precisely the GOP’s denial of the existence of the Enlightened Middle Majority that cost them the last two elections.
It is the failure to acknowledge that we are a powerful force that may well lose both the Republicans and the Democrats the next one. If “the sides” continue to devalue and ignore us, and continue the unreasonable, childish, divisive nonsense of President Obama’s reign (and I include him in that assessment—we did not vote him King and high ruler, we voted for him to represent we, the people), future elections could be unwinnable by either side.
AUTHOR UPDATE 10/15/13: And apparently it's something we're talking about.
I am the girl who regularly felt like the only conservative in the room when she lived in California, and who often feels like the only liberal in existence back in her hometown. I once balked at the idea of an open political debate, but I’m always free to vote my conscience once I close that proverbial curtain. I remain frustrated and pissed off, and come time to vote again, I will remember, and my keyboard will continue to ring loud and clear.
This good, God-loving girl is deeply grateful to have come out of a public school system that had a fantastic English department, from which I actually managed to learn, despite not doing a lick of homework. Had I done some of it, had I taken advantage of the one community college opportunity I did have, but walked away from because all I wanted to do was get out of Dodge and away from my stigmatized family, I often wonder what I might have been capable of, or had the confidence to purse, much earlier in life. I couldn’t get back to Dodge fast enough, and my son will likely be a 4th generation graduate from that same public school. Due to cuts in education and the stresses to the system I described in my “Enlightened Middle Majority” post, he won't likely receive the same preparation for written communication that I enjoyed despite myself. I don’t know how colleges will decide whether or not he deserves to attend when this year his school has eliminated grades in favor of rubrics and matrixes and individual ”growth” assessments. I guess it’ll be determined exclusively by who is lucky enough to afford it, which is looking like an only scarier prospect by then. We still haven’t been able to help our second grown daughter.
I respect the position the Cute Conservative holds dear that comes from her religious upbringing, and would equally enjoy sharing a happy hour barstool and a couple hours of lively debate with her. As long as we establish that being more pious doesn’t make her more deserving of God’s love than me, and it doesn’t mean she believes in God *more* than I do…only that she believes in a building and in a book, and in her interpretation of God, or the Universe, or whatever. What I hoped to express in my post, something on which I think we agree, is that we can both live in this world, love God (or not) and love our country; neither of us any more or any less deserving of representation than the other.
I am a complex creature. We are all complex creatures. For any number of reasons, many of us hold positions and beliefs that can be claimed by either “side” at any given time, but to answer her question, yes, I am passionate about the things in which I believe, just like she is.
My frustration remains with the loudest voices being those to the farthest of any side, via the sensationalism that our media perpetuates for ratings. Most importantly, from my first featured post, “My Friends Think I’m the Only Liberal They Know: I Don’t Know What I Am,” “I’m deeply concerned about my ability to determine what the truth really is and to whom I should listen. If the Republicans are full of crap, and the Democrats are full of crap, and the media is full of crap, where in the world does the truth lie, and who the hell is shoveling it?” (And who the hell knew anyone would read it?!)
Dani asked whether or not I am opposed to drilling for new oil. I was opposed to and offended by the ridicule and Rudy Giuliani’s offish behavior that lead to the chant at the 2012 RNC that diminished something important to me—which lead me to feel that they could never hear me, would never listen.
I presume I am like the vast majority of Americans, who are in favor of reducing our dependence on foreign oil, but I’m not willing to passively drink the drill-baby-drill Kool-Aid. I am fully aware that the oil lobby pushes something we can probably most all agree on as a divisive issue meant to distract from our efforts toward biofuels, conservation and green jobs. Hello. They’re jobs. And they’re not fracking up our earth. To be fair, here is an excellent article on “The Truth About Fracking.” As long as the “gassholes,” as Kevin refers to the frackers, are required to handle the waste water with better than best practices as some of the natural gas companies are forward-thinking enough to do, I’m becoming open-minded, and I most assuredly don’t want the feds fracking up the issue. I’m from Michigan, heart of the Great Lakes, and I don’t believe it belongs here, where companies may or may not feel compelled to protect the precious resource the greatest collection of fresh water is to the entire country. And I wonder often how green jobs could possibly be a bad thing, except for the fact that they don’t make the already most profitable industry in the world more money (and incidentally, according to Kevin, neither does fracking, so who really are the “gassholes” drilling up that debate)?
Dani responded to the issue of abortion in her post, so here we go yet again. And honestly, her implying that perhaps I’m less worthy of God’s love because of the position on abortion I share with many women and men, is the only problem I had with her otherwise thoughtful rebuttal.
I try not to be a sheep. I try to think and reason and live my life with awareness. In the comments of “My Friends Think,” I said, “Why must everything be so black and white? Liberal vs. conservative, welfare vs. being cut off completely, Christian men vs. "all" women. Of course I understand that [it isn’t really men against women, but because we mostly hear from men on political issues,] liberals behave like they can swing the women's vote by saying conservatives are taking away abortion, and conservatives try to keep everyone in their corner by saying, ‘Watch out! Pretty soon every woman will be entitled to a free abortion and she'll be doing it every other month because she'll be using it as birth control and you'll have to pay for it!’ Geez! Can we just STOP already?” And then in the comments for “Enlightened Middle,” I said, “But here we are getting mired in the issue of abortion once again [and again, and again]. We must ask ourselves, who benefits from constantly pushing the issue back in our faces? Take abortion off the damn table. Then see what happens, then see what we talk about and what, as a nation, we can accomplish.”
Because--let me annunciate this very clearly so we can all understand, girls and boys--abortion was debated and decided, it’s an amendment to the constitution. My life is not less important than the potential for life, and Christians simply don’t have the right to make that decision for me or for my daughters or for my nieces, based on their book’s and their place of worship’s religious morality, because not everyone shares it (I so wanted to capitalize that). And who says their morality is best—oh, I know they do, loudly, even as funding that feeds many children and mothers that already live and breathe on this earth is again and again threatened. None of us will really know until we get *up there,* if there is an up there, which I happen to believe there is. I happen to believe that I will be judged as an imperfect human being that was created in his image on my life as a whole, not on one high moral position on this one issue, or even whether or not I, myself had an abortion.
It might surprise Dani to know that I was once a thoughtful, smart, capable Midwestern girl with a good Christian upbringing—and then my Christian family fell apart and the bottom fell out. I was raised singing in my church my whole childhood. My grandmother held court in the front pew every Sunday, and was one of the driving forces that built the church of my youth. She was also one scrappy lady. When I became a single mother at twenty, my church had nothing to offer me. No compassion or empathy was bestowed by anyone, except my grandmother. She had forced her eldest daughter to give up a child for adoption. She was glad that things were different for me—that I had a choice. While my church may have smited me, this didn’t stop me from believing in God, and in fact, were it not for my strong belief in God, neither my daughter nor I would be alive today. I hope I have taught my children to appreciate God in the world around them; to be kind, to be respectful of others, and especially to honor themselves, because I didn’t honor myself for many years.
My first child saved me from myself and put me back on track and I have always put all of my children first. But my life and everything I believed in, including myself and my Christian upbringing, was absolutely shaken for a long while. I could never presume to make such a choice for any other woman. And make no mistake; it is an issue of supreme importance to women, because it is about our bodies, our business, it is our lives that are changed and impacted most by choosing whether and when to have children. Women and children live in poverty in vastly greater numbers than men, which has been the case all over the world and throughout history.
“The Church” is an EXclusive club rather than an INclusive one: follow their doctrines; look alike, think alike, or risk being ostracized if you’re different or if you fall. Home schooling is a largely Christian choice because it blocks perceived liberal teachers from the opportunity to infect Christian children with their wacky views. Then they wonder what went wrong when a *good* Christian girl leaves the baby she didn’t understand she was having to die in a dumpster because she wasn’t taught sex education. How many good Christian girls have crossed state or county lines to have secret abortions, and how many good Christian boys have paid for them? Look at the devastating rate of suicide when, God-forbid, a promising Christian boy or girl turns out to be gay.
Above all, I stand by my call for more common sense than I perceive here in politics and for peaceful, respectful discourse like I pray I’m delivering, to replace posturing and bullying, particularly when so much of that is greed-based. That’s my problem with the whole system…perhaps it isn’t as much the two parties, as it is the lobbies that have made it nearly impossible to gauge what’s truly best for our country.
We are a nation of hungry and seemingly no one has enough. It’s all about beating the other guy and grabbing the *most* market share, and if possible, kicking the other guy completely out of the sandbox. So yeah, I’m a let’s share the sandbox kind of girl, but I don’t think that’s being weak. I think it’s being sensible. There truly is enough sand for us all, but we need to position ourselves properly to claim our share of it. I don’t need a bigger share than the next guy…I just need enough to take care of my family—which right now is a pretty scary proposition with all four of us adults currently unemployed. I don’t think the next guy should have to give me some of his if I haven’t worked for it, but neither do I think he should be allowed to hurt others to get his. Sadly, that’s precisely what goes on in the name of progress. People are being hurt. Our country is being hurt.
Here’s another example about which I’m pretty passionate: Infertility means that our species can’t reproduce, which ultimately equals extinction. In recent years when we do manage to reproduce, 1 in 75 children between the ages of 6 and 17 present with some form of neurological deficit (encephalopathy, aka “autism”). According to the people that live with them and know them best of all, the vast majority of children considered on the autism spectrum are not born that way; something in our society makes them that way. I see a big problem there, and it’s a problem that isn’t being acknowledged by the powers that be, or adequately addressed with healthcare reform. Look at how our system is taxed by aging and retiring Baby Boomers and be afraid, because we haven’t seen anything yet. I live in a small town, there are far more rest homes here than it seems our small area should need. When so many children become adults who can’t hold jobs, who tax the system further, whose parents are financially wiped out and completely used up from caring for them their entire lives, when marriages are further stressed and broken because of it…we don’t have a huge problem brewing, it’s here. Where’s the acknowledgement? Where’s the accountability?
Big Changes need to occur where Big Food and Big Pharma and their cohabitation is concerned (ie, Food and Drug should not be one entity), and I don’t see that happening fast enough, because not enough people are talking about it, are even aware of it, and many still think it doesn’t apply to them.
I want Big Food and Big Pharma held accountable for the toxic load of crap they have together foisted on our society, on women’s reproductive organs, and on our ever-increasingly damaged children. I want to hear more people screaming about it in the streets, more parents crying foul and advocating for their broken children. But many of them are too damn tired, and many others aren’t quite sure they know what they know because they’re bullied and badgered or bribed with coupons and left to feel inept, unworthy and guilty by judgy doctors and other parents and *studies* that are sponsored by government and Big Pharma. The same guilty that made my Christian upbringing sensibility feel that maybe I deserved infertility. I didn’t . No one deserves infertility. It is merely another condition of our broken society that needs healing, and my son is here to tell you that Obamacare isn’t the answer.
I am in favor of further examination of healthcare reform before needed changes are adopted, for starters, because as it sits now, I feel it aims to take away my choices as a parent and as an American. The math is beyond flawed when I will be fined because I can’t afford to purchase insurance. I don’t even know what that makes me, besides pissed off and disappointed…besides vocal and willing to stand up now and be heard and my numbers counted because that’s where I think the Enlightened Middle Majority comes in. Many of the answers aren’t black and white where issues like the environment and the future of our children that are already walking on this earth are concerned; they aren’t merely Democrat or Republican, Liberal or Christian, man or woman—they are American--which leaves us in a big fat crap shoot where tomorrow and the next election is concerned. Enlightened Middle Majority to me means that with various issues I could be found leaning to either side of the aisle, that I can’t identify with one or the other, because, just like a marriage or a good debate, neither party can possibly be right all the time...and when they only want what they want when they want it, regardless of what’s truly right for America, it’s time for all the mommas of the world, Dani (mother or not) and me included, to deliver a serious time out to determine where in the middle the truth lies.
Large corporations (too many of them foreign-owned) are calling the shots and they’re calling them based entirely on greed and an agenda to get their guy elected. Both “sides” are punishing Americans when things don’t go their way. That’s a scary, scary situation in my book, no matter which side of the aisle you’re on, and that’s precisely where the Enlightened Middle Majority will no longer passively graze, oblivious. We need to come together and be heard and be willing to fight in the most sensible and respectful and aware of ways--for America.
Author|Award-Winning Essayist|Freelance CommercialWriter|GANE
Empowered Wellness Advocate, Facilitator, Speaker
Kim is a freelance writer, living and working on Michigan’s sunset coast with her husband, youngest son, a standard poodle and a gecko. She’s been every-mom, raising two generations of kids over twenty-seven years. Kim writes on a variety of topics including parenting through midlife crisis, infertility, health and wellness, personal empowerment, politics, and about anything else that interests her, including flash fiction and her novel in progress, Bluebirds. Oh, and this happened!
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.
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