The Self-Made Man

This is an excerpt from an paper I wrote for my ethics class about ethical egoism.

“Rugged individualist theory,” or what I like to call “the bootstraps theory,” has been the rally cry of the GOP since Reagan. “The bootstraps theory,” simply put, is “I have pulled myself up by my own bootstraps and worked hard for what I have, so everyone else should/can do the same.” This theory is usually spouted by a white male while talking about “welfare queens” or some other generally misrepresented group. The major problem, of which there are many, with this perspective is it discounts both the propping up of white (or financial, educational, and community) privilege and the devastation of racial and class oppression.

Trump is basically running on a “bootstraps” platform, not only with his “Make America Great Again” rhetoric, but also his insistence that he is a self-made man. This is appealing to a portion of the American population that has sown the benefits of privilege and has not had much experience with, and understanding of, the effect class and race oppression has on whole communities of people.

A deeper dive into the his “bootstraps” stance reveals that his popularity is also buoyed by, not only, the idea he is a self made man, but also that he tows no line because of the immense wealth he proclaims even exists and was built with the help of no one. It’s reveling about his followers that they believe any of this drivel. This narrative is ridiculously and apparently false. Trump started his career with $1million from his father, as well as a $40million inheritance from his grandfather in 1974 — this, by definition, excludes him from being a “self-made man”. Starting your career with name recognition, millions in cash, and millions more in credit proves singularly that he has profited from others. That is just the beginning.

I feel this “bootstraps” theory is what is currently driving a wedge in our country. Countless Americans are feeling disenfranchised and Trump is praying on this. Politician after politician has been speaking up to oppose Trump’s rugged individualism, decrying his aggressive and agitative stance on just about everything. They all seem to agree that it is dangerous that Trump believes that he alone, as he has stated on many many occasions, is the best at everything – including making decisions about foreign affairs. The leader of the free world has advisors for a reason, just as cooperation and affection come naturally to members of our deeply social species, humans require impute from others to be ultimately successful. Just look at North Korea, Cuba, and all other countries governed by a dictator.

Donald Trump Holds Campaign Rally In Fort Worth

FORT WORTH, TX – FEBRUARY 26: Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks at a rally at the Fort Worth Convention Center on February 26, 2016 in Fort Worth, Texas. Trump is campaigning in Texas, days ahead of the Super Tuesday primary. (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images)


Toxic Masculinity and our current state of affairs.

Does it go without being said that the Orlando shooting was not about Islam, the Koran, or Sharia Law – but about deep-seated homophobia rooted in toxic masculinity?

At least that was my read.

“Toxic masculinity” ran over and over in my head. Holding men to an impossible standard of emotional control, which is dangerous for them and everyone else. The fear of being weak. The fear of loving another man. The fear of having any feelings at all.

Then I bumped into this podcast – it’s an episode of Invisibilia – and tells the story of the growing size, and danger, of deepwater oil rigs. This story is not about safety measures or safety plans on the bigger rigs, but about how learning to be vulnerable, and in turn how to communicate, can be the best safety measure of all.

It’s not a surprise the majority of employees of deepwater oil rigs are men. The culture of these rigs can be highly masculine, with the presiding feeling of “don’t ask questions, don’t show weakness.” This results in many accidents and deaths.

Enter a little French lady who changed it all.

This episode really hit at the heart of “toxic masculinity” and how, if you can melt these rigid expectations, the world would be a safer and more lovely place.

Oh, and we can’t forget gun control:

VEEP, Lifetime, and other adventures in TV

Finally, for the first time in my life – I can publicly admit that I watch a lot of tv. I grew up without a tv. We were taught it would rot our brains. And, for the most part, I agree.

Though my dear friend Rebecca likes to remind me: “we live in the golden age of television.” At first I didn’t believe her, but by golly she’s right!

Exhibit 1: VEEP

This show is amazing. Quick recap, Julia Louis-Dreyfus is the vice president of the US and the show centers around her and her staff. It’s super funny, crude, and totally feminist. But not in a gross preachy way. It’s an HBO show so the vocabulary of beyond. The VEEP kicks a ton of ass while still being hilarious and relatable. The one thing happily missing is the main character’s constant need for male approval.


Exhibit 2: The Good Wife and Scandal

Sorry, these two will forever be lumped together for me as female-centered poli-dramas. Stories about ladies doing it their way, grabbing power, leaving men in their dust. Great writing, compelling story lines, and plenty of red wine.

Exhibit 3: Black-ish

Finally, the return of the well done black-centered sitcom! Been missing since the 90s (you know, back in the “golden age of black television”). This show is hilarious but also tackles hard and complicated social/racial problems. I mean, they aren’t saving the world – but they aren’t afraid of focusing on the black experience in a white world with all its flaws and pitfalls.

BUT….television can still rot your brain.

Exhibit A: Lifetime

Every single show (except Project Runway and Unreal) is a travesty. An exercise in appealing to the lowest-common-denominator. Just cheaply made, inexpertly crafted, sacks of clickbait.

Exhibit B: 95% of everything else made

I mean, really. There’s lots of crap out there.

Spring Events.

My events coming up in St. Louis and Grand Rapids.
Come buy my book, Take a class, and Shake my hand!!! I would love to see you.

Shop Like a Chef - A Food Lover's Guide to St. Louis Neighborhoods

Spring has officially Sprung and we will be making our rounds with the book, cooking class, and lots of other fun events!!

Please join in St. Louis and Grand Rapids for all the food and fun.



May 18, 2014 – 10:30am-3pm Book and Mustard Sales at The Kitchen Speakeasy

My Orange House (3100 Potomac, 63118)

May 20, 20142pm Presentation and Book Signing

Grand Glaize Branch Library (1010 Meramec Station Rd, 63021)

May 22, 201411am-2pmCheese Making Class

My Orange House (3100 Potomac, 63118)


May 27, 2014 – Radio Interview

May 28, 20147pm Fundraiser “Iron Chef” for Grand Rapids Symphony Orchestra

The Ambassador Ballroom at the Amway Grand (187 Monroe NW, 49503)

May 29, 20146pmVegetarian Comfort Foods Class

Downtown Market (435 Ionia Ave SW, 49503)

May 30, 20146pmVegMex Class

Downtown Market (435…

View original post 90 more words

make your own crackers.

For the love of trying to do everything myself (and the necessity of not having very much money) I ventured into cracker territory about a month ago. What resulted was delicious, pretty easy, and lasted for a long time (like three weeks in an airtight container).

My favorite part is: the resulting cracker was just a blank slate for whatever I wanted to sprinkle on top – like sesame seeds, flax seeds, poppy seeds, cracked pepper, cracked mustard, parmesan, rosemary, garlic, and on and on.




The dough is easy enough to make:

(for a fairly big batch, feel free to cut it in half)

3 c flour

2 Tbl sugar

2 Tbl salt

4 Tbl oil (any kind really)

1 c warm water

Just mix in sugar and salt with flour, throw in oil and warm water and mix!!! Once all incorporated, knead for a few minutes. Then you will have this:

Your ball of dough. If you use the entire recipe, you should separate your dough into 4 balls.

Your ball of dough. If you use the entire recipe, you should separate your dough into 4 balls.

Cut each ball into 6 pieces.

Cut each ball into 6 pieces.

Put pieces on a lightly floured surface and roll.

Put pieces on a lightly floured surface and roll.

Roll until it is paper thin. No, really....paper thin - it's not that hard and it's the difference between crisp and chewy crackers.

Roll until it is paper thin. No, really….paper thin – it’s not that hard and it’s the difference between crisp and chewy crackers.

Slide rolled dough onto a pan.

Slide rolled dough onto a pan. (Not pictured: Be sure to prick the dough with a fork all over (docking), you’ll see why later.)

Cut into strips (a pizza roller works best).

Cut into strips (a pizza roller works best).

Cut the other direction.

Cut the other direction.

Bake at 450 for just 5-10 minutes, or until the crackers are nice and golden.

Bake at 450 for just 5-10 minutes, or until the crackers are nice and golden.

Below are the difference between the dough that has been docked (pricked with a fork) and the dough that wasn’t:

Crackers without docking (being pricked with a fork). They are all puffy and uneven.

Crackers without docking (being pricked with a fork). They are all puffy and uneven.

Crackers that were docked. Nice and flat and much crisper with an even brown.

Crackers that were docked. Nice and flat and much crisper with an even brown.


Crackers for Everyone

makes about 100 small crackers

3 c flour

2 Tbl sugar

2 Tbl salt

4 Tbl oil (any kind really)

1 c warm water

1.Preheat oven to 450.

2. Mix dry ingredients (flour, salt, and sugar) in a large bowl.

3. Pour in oil and warm water, mix with a fork until the liquid is incorporated.

4. Mix with your hands until the dough is uniform, and then knead for at least 2 minutes.

5. Separate dough into 4 balls, and let dough rest for about 10 minutes (if it is dry, you might want to place a damp towel over the dough).

6. Cut each dough ball into 6 pieces.

7. Roll out each piece on a lightly floured surface until paper thin.

8. Slide the rolled dough onto a tray, dock the dough with a fork, and cut into the size crackers you want.

9. Place into oven for 5 minutes, rotate the tray and cook for another 5 minutes. Check and keep cooking until the crackers are golden brown. They may be a little soft when they come out, but as they cool – they will crisp nicely.

(Note: if you want to add toppings, I usually wet the dough with egg or water (using a pastry brush or small spoon) after step 8. Then I sprinkle whatever I want on top (sesame seeds, salt, poppy seeds, flax seeds, etc).






Knife for Hire Picnic Foods

Market Menu for Wednesday September 11, 2013

Tomatillo Sweet Corn Salsa

scallions, lime, cilantro, red chili, blue corn chips

Roasted Turnip Salad

concord grape puree, oven dried pears, almonds, feta

Truffle Potato Salad

greek yogurt, leeks, shallots, roasted garlic, parsley

Spicy Gandules with Pimentos

harissa, pickled okra

Peanut Lime Brown Rice Salad

sweet pickled carrots, chinese spinach, lemon cucumbers, nappa cabbage, basil, mint, black sesame seeds

Pluot Trifle

vanilla poached pluots, banana pudding, honey biscuits

Deviled Duck Eggs

Coconut Cornbread

Only 4 Markets Left!

Knife for Hire Picnic Foods

Market Menu for Wednesday September 4, 2013


Harissa Cauliflower

sweet corn, caramelized red onions, green beans

Madras Potato Salad

goat milk yogurt, tumeric, mustard seeds, lime

Peanut & Lime Rice Noodle Salad

nappa cabbage, carrots, cucumber, basil, cilantro, mint

Marinated Goat Cheese & Baby Kale

confit tomatoes, braised celery

Deviled Duck Eggs

Charred Tomato Cornbread

Peach Blackberry Trifle

vanilla cream, honey biscuits





Knife For Hire Picnic Foods

Market Menu for Wednesday August 28th, 2013

Green Bean & Sun Gold Tomato Salad

chinese spinach, toasted almonds, preserved tomato vinaigrette

Truffle Potato Salad

leeks, marinated shallots, thyme, greek yogurt

Ratatouille Cous Cous

eggplant puree, roasted summer squash, sweet peppers, confit tomatoes

Watermelon Feta Salad

mint, red onions, melon vinaigrette

Deviled Duck Eggs

Spicy Charred Tomato Salsa

charred tomatoes, floral gem peppers, sweet corn, pinto beans

Vanilla Rose Pudding

blackberry coulis, strawberry chips, mint, almonds

See you at the market tomorrow.




Knife For Hire Picnic Foods

Market Menu for Wednesday August 21st, 2013

Beet & Pear Salad

red pears (ACMA Mission Orchards), mixed beets (Nash Farm) roasted with tumeric, nasturtium flowers (Alm Hill)

Truffle Potato Salad

La Soda potatoes (Olsen Farms), summer leeks (One Leaf), greek yogurt (Samish Bay), tarragon

Sweet Peach Lebneh

house-made vanilla bean lebneh, red fire peaches (ACMA Mission Orchards) poached with cardamom and lavender, almonds, mint

Black Bean Tomatillo Salsa

corn, padron and poblano peppers, tomatillos, cilantro (all from Alvarez Organic Farms)

Cranberry Beans & Okra w/ Quinoa Cornbread

cranberry beans (Alm Hill), okra (Alvarez Organic Farms), poblano peppers, pickled sun gold tomatoes (One Leaf), fresh corn

Summer Squash & Eggplant Quinoa Salad

patty pan squash and eggplant (Alvarez Organic Farms), sun gold tomatoes, sumac, marjoram, tomato syrup, rainbow quinoa

Very Local PB&J

raspberry Jam (berries from Alm Hill), peanut butter (peanuts from Alvarez Organic Farms)

Come visit tomorrow.

Buy one of everything.