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What’s For Dinner?

I love to cook as much as the next foodie, but sometimes I get bored. You know the drill – you’ve planned meals, gone food shopping with a list and as you get to the end of your perishables, you find you’ve lost the love for the lonely broccoli in your fridge or frozen sausage you bought on sale.

I like to have some backup food in my pantry for those less-inspired, less hungry, too-busy nights. A can of beets can become a quick salad with oil, vinegar and sliced onions. Pasta with some marinara in a jar can be a filling meal, especially if you mix in some defrosted chop meat.

Prepared food in a box is usually so filled with preservatives, corn syrup and unrecognizable words that I try to avoid them. I will admit, though, that Trader Joe’s has some good prepared options with a limited list of ingredients. If I can pronounce them all, I’ll try it out. Their canned chicken noodle soup is good to have on hand when you get the sniffles and don’t have the energy to make yourself Mom’s recipe. Their microwaveable Indian specialties are really flavorful, quick and tasty with whatever rice you have in the pantry or backup frozen Trader Joe’s naan.

The key to this is having back-up food in the freezer or pantry. I love shopping and stocking up when there’s a good sale or coupon.

We have some frozen (Michigan made!) pirogues that will probably find their way out of the freezer tonight. Boiled and then quickly fried in olive oil with some sliced onions, we’ll be filled up and quickly cleaned up, too.

What are your favorite quick meals?

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For those of you specifically interested in writing tips – composition to creative writing – I’ve started a second blog. This blog, Chloe Yelena Miller, will address the kinds of tips I give my composition writing students and private writing students.

My blog will integrate the content of some of the writing courses I’ve taught and workshops I’ve presented since I received my MFA from Sarah Lawrence College in 2005.

Here are some sample courses I’ve taught:
Poetry Writing Your Family
Travel Writing
Memoir Writing
Advanced Writing
Popular Culture: Poetry & War
Composition I & Composition II
Research Writing

Additionally, I’ve presented the following workshops:
Brainstorming, Work, and Creativity: Thinking Outside of the Box
Family History: Ideas for Collecting & Assembling
Writing About Family
Journal Writing: finding a beginning
Digging up Dirt: Writing and Researching Your Family

If you would like further assistance with your writing project, I would be happy to work with you. I currently work as a private writing coach with adults who are working on projects ranging from trade freelance articles to poetry to chapters for an upcoming novel.

If you haven’t worked with a writing coach before, here is how it works: the author emails me the text a few days before we talk on the phone, Skype, email or meet in person (depending on our respective locations.) I have reasonable rates and my goal is to help you reach your writing goal and perfect your own voice for the project.

If you have questions that you’d like me to address in my blog, please email me at chloemiller(@)gmail(dot)com. I also welcome guest bloggers, if you would like to share some of your expertise.

My friend Hila Ratzabi is putting together an essay anthology by women in Jewish interfaith relationships. You might remember reading her piece recently on this subject that I blogged about.  She is the perfect editor for an anthology like this.

Following is her call for submissions. For more information, please, contact her directly. You can also read some of her work on her blog.

***

Call for Submissions: Essay Anthology by Women in Jewish Interfaith Relationships
I am a graduate of the MFA in Writing program at Sarah Lawrence College and am developing an essay anthology that will feature essays by women who are in (or have been in) an interfaith relationship or marriage, in which one of the partners is Jewish (the contributors may be the Jewish or non-Jewish partner). An amorphous body of this literature is floating around the internet, notably on the website interfaithfamily.com. Sociology books on the topic of Jewish intermarriage abound, as do practical guidebooks for marriage and parenting. But what is often missing from the existing literature are human stories. This collection of personal essays will focus specifically on women’s stories, about the joys and challenges of their relationships, their experiences with child-rearing, how they relate to their communities and families, how they create their own identities in the unique “liminal zone” of the interfaith relationship.
I am looking for, first and foremost, great, well-written, vivid personal stories. I welcome published and unpublished authors to submit their essays/stories. The length may be 1,000-2,000 words (but I am open to any reasonable length, shorter or longer). The tone/style should not be polemical or sentimental, just an honest and compelling non-fiction personal narrative. (You may want to take a look at the excellent anthology, Half/Life, edited by Laurel Snyder and published by Soft Skull Press, which features the stories of adults who were raised in Jewish interfaith homes.) 

Notes:
– I’m focusing only on Jewish interfaith relationships, because the phenomenon in the Jewish community takes on a very particular valence that distinguishes it from the phenomenon in other communities, even as there may be some overlap.

– There are many wonderful narratives told by men in interfaith relationships, but I believe it is important to highlight women in this particular anthology. An anthology of men’s essays would be a separate project.

– I invite queer women to submit—you may deserve your own anthology as well, but your interfaith experiences probably have much in common with those of heterosexual women.

– We often hear about Jewish-Christian interfaith relationships—I would love to hear from those in relationships where the non-Jewish partner is also non-Christian.

– For those of you who are poets and fiction writers, I’m looking only for non-fiction, and I love non-fiction written by poets and fiction writers.

– If you consider your relationship inter-something other than faith (culture, race), and one partner identifies as Jewish, I want to hear from you, too.

– I do not have a publisher yet, but I solemnly promise to get one. And I hope to pay contributors.

Please send submissions as a Word attachment (not .docx) to interfaithessay@gmail.com. Submissions will be accepted on a rolling basis through May 1st, 2010—earlier is better, though. Include your name, a short bio, and email address. Responses will be sent by September 1st, 2010. Thank you, and I look forward to reading your stories! 

Hila Ratzabi, Editor

I went a school that no longer exists. For someone who is mildly obsessed with reunions and Facebook, it is disconcerting to be so disconnected from a place where I spent eight years of my childhood.

 Recently, I stumbled upon a Facebook group  for people who studied at Vail-Deane in either Elizabeth or Mountainside, NJ. I couldn’t believe it! Here were old friends and teachers. Right here!

It was a very small class (I’m pretty sure there were only eight girls in my class of 15 or so in seventh grade), so we really knew everyone. There are current pictures and yearbook pictures of people. I spent quite a while foraging through the pictures and remembering my time there.

If any of you out there went to Vail-Deane and remember my class (class of 1994, although I left in seventh grade), I’d love to be in touch!

I first came across Maitelates (my-tay-lah-tes) at Comet Coffee  (in the Ann Arbor Arcade) with a friend who had spent some time in Chile. She had a huge smile when she saw the chocolate dipped alfajors. She said she’s never seen them available in the USA.

I had never tasted anything like these treats. The caramel-filled shortbread-like cookies are delicate, sweet and delicious. You can buy them on Wednesdays and Saturdays at the Ann Arbor Farmer’s Market in Kerrytown or online at Foodzie.

My parents were recently visiting and they were kind enough to buy us a sampler box. My favorite flavor – so far – is the Michigan cherry.

For more information about the cookies and the woman who makes them, Maite Zubia, I encourage you to visit her online diary.

cookbook

**I wanted to remind everyone about this opportunity to share recipes for a good cause. I submitted three recipes the other day. Have you submitted yours yet? **

Debbie Green is calling for recipes and tasters for a second cookbook to support the Greenview Hepatitis C Fund, a nonprofit. The Fund raises money for Hepatitis C research at the University of Michigan.

As avid writers and chefs, I thought I’d share this with you. 

The cookbook will focus on special diets (think: allergies, glutton free, low carb., etc.) I look forward to contributing some corn syrup-free recipes for dishes that are impossible to order in a restaurant without being saturated in it. The first two that come to mind are pecan pie and meatloaf, but I’m sure I’ll think of more.

When you are thinking of recipes to share, keep in mind that Debbie prefers recipes that are easy to prepare and don’t have too many hard to find or unusual ingredients. Also, she prefers things that are made from scratch. 

To submit your recipes, send them in a Word document or regular email to Debbie(at)hepcfund(dot)org or mail to:

Debbie Green

2773 Holyoke Lane

Ann Arbor, MI 48103 

Be sure to include and check:

1. correct measurements (T=tablespoon, t= teaspoon, c=cup)

2. oven temp.

3. cooking time

4. nutrition info if available

5. clear and precise instructions

6. ethnicity of dish

7. if this dish is for a special diet (gluten-free, vegetarian, allergy, etc.)

8. any suggestions for accompanying dishes

9. your name and contact info

10. any comments you wish (Try to keep comments to 4 lines, unless it’s a really good story!)

Through the Fund, Debbie has raised a total of $30,000 so far. One of her best fund raisers is her first cookbook, Cooking Around the World, which sold over 1,000 copies. (This cookbook, along with a few free recipes, is available from her website.) Help make this next cookbook just as, if not more, successful!

You might have noticed that this blog is no longer a “Personalized Wedding Poet’s Blog.” I’m expanding my personalized poetry business to include occasions beyond weddings.

Here is a love poem I wrote recently for a couple whose togetherness is inspirational.

 

 

Earth’s Elements

Hold my hand; remember our song.

Before Tennessee, we live together

in the palm of Michigan.

Our love, wide as the Atlantic,

spans farther than the tiny part

sweeping the shores of Myrtle Beach.

The air warms and cools these waters at once.

No, that’s wrong. It’s larger than that.

Our love rounds the earth, an equator.

Uncomplicated, we taste childhood’s milk and cookies.

In the beginning,

you sat across the table,

wrote on the receipt,

will you be my girlfriend? Check yes or no.

A fair test, the answer sure.

We settled in, home building in the small space between us:

everyday Black Love Day.

Now, spooning on this couch, thigh to thigh,

I tell you,

Honey, I love you always.

 

As Maya Angelou wrote,

Phenomenally.
Phenomenal woman,
That’s me.

I add,

That’s us.