Recipe of the Week: Gazpacho

I’m trying to make one new recipe each week, so I might as well share them with you, right?

The temperature here is nearing ninety degrees, so I decided to make gazpacho, a stew of raw vegetables. I only had to boil water for a few minutes in order to peel the tomatoes. Upon reflection, I could have avoided that step by just using tomato juice and/or canned tomatoes.

Anyway, here’s Alton Brown’s gazpacho recipe. I didn’t make any alterations this time, other than doubling the recipe.

I’m serving it with some Rosemary Olive bread I picked up from Market Basket, and some Chèvre (French goat cheese).

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I Have Asperger’s and I Read Your Comments, Too.

The following is a comic from Emphathize This. It’s so powerful, I am reposting it without comment.

A comic about an Aspie woman reading online comments about Autism. Transcript follows image. [The comic is an abbreviated version of the following text. ~d]

I have a host of mental differences. I suffer from depression and anxiety. I experience emotions more intensely than my peers. But the diagnosis that I most identify with is Asperger’s Syndrome, a form of autism.

I think of Asperger’s as being born without Social Language. By social language, I mean mostly non-verbal communication (facial expression, gesture, tone of voice), but also social niceties, like small talk. Social language gives context to spoken words, and reveals others’ emotions. Because my knowledge of this language is so uncertain, I’m constantly second guessing myself, trying to pick signals I barely recognize and follow rules that I don’t know.

I think I cling to the diagnosis so much because it speaks to the loneliness and isolation I’ve felt so often. There were plenty of years when I had no friends. I used to play this game in my head: What would I trade to have friends? The natural beauty my mom said I had? My singing voice? My math skills? My ability to walk? My ability to read? Use of the left side of my body? The right? Sight? Hearing? Anything to not feel so alone. It was a stupid game. I felt like I would trade everything just to be accepted, liked, loved, and valued. But you don’t get to trade, and what I wanted most was to be able to have all those things…without having to change a single thing about myself.

I’ve been in therapy since I was thirteen. In therapy I learned a way around social language. I can talk about deep things fairly easily. I can listen to people talk about emotions and ask for clarification gently. I can understand emotions once people are really talking about them, once we’re past the superficial. I am training to be a psychologist because, when we’re all speaking close enough languages, I can empathize well. I also learned that I can tell and understand stories. Books will always be on my side.

I am currently pretty much friendless, but I have hope for the future. I am not normal, but I’ve found a way to function. Life hurts, but I want to live and I feel like I can actually live and live well.

I go online because it’s easier online, and I research autism because I want to learn more.

But what I read hurts.

I find stories of mothers and fathers and sisters and brothers of people who have autism. The person who has autism rarely tells the stories. The stories focus on impairments, and how the surrounding family is affected. Even the awareness campaigns feel like allies and caregivers reaching out to more allies and caregivers. It does not feel like people with autism coming out to the world and trying to find more people like us, people who speak our language.

The stories I read often describe people who cannot speak for themselves. These voiceless humans are treated as objects of inspiration and burden – objects, not people. The families have suffered, and though we don’t mean to inflict pain on them, we are the center of their sufferings. It is understandable that we would seem – even to those who love us – as pitiful, as selfish, as lesser, or weak. It’s true that caretakers can feel this way, and they should be allowed to express their struggles too.

But it hurts, reading your stories. I’m human. I read. I feel. I function. How could you think that no one like me would ever read your stories? How could you think that we would never know? How could you think we wouldn’t get angry, reading about how we’re burdens on your otherwise normal life? How could you think that we wouldn’t feel ashamed?

I listen to your stories and all I want to do is make it better, be better. But I don’t know how to make you happy.

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2014 GOTY

It’s not very easy to decide on my personal 2014 Game of the Year. First, I have to figure out all the games I’ve played in 2014. It also includes games that came out in previous years. This isn’t a ranking, but a recollection of the games I’ve started this year:

  • 9 Hours, 9 Persons, 9 Doors (DS)
  • Professor Layton vs. Phoenix Wright (3DS)
  • Super Smash Bros (3DS)
  • Pokémon Alpha Sapphire (3DS)
  • Fantasy Life (3DS)
  • Theatrhythm Final Fantasy: Curtain Call (3DS)
  • Disney Magical World (3DS)
  • Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII (PS3)
  • Final Fantasy XIII-2 (PS3)
  • Ni No Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch (PS3)
  • MLB 2014 The Show (PSVita)
  • Persona 3 Portable (PS Vita)
  • Phoenix Wright Ace Attorney: Dual Destinies (3DS)
  • Bravely Default (3DS)
  • Professor Layton and the Azran Legacy (3DS)
  • Tomodachi Life (3DS)
  • Guacameele (PSVita)
  • Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft (PC/iOS)
  • Plants vs. Zombies 2: It’s About Time (iOS
  • Tactics Ogre: Let Us Cling Together (PSVita)
  • Final Fantasy Tactics (PSVita)
  • Vib Ribbon (PS3/PSVita)
  • Final Fantasy X Remastered (PSVita)

Yeah, unfortunately, I did not play a single new PC game in 2014. Most of my PC gaming time was spent on Guild Wars 2 and Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn.

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Really good marketing, Macy’s!

I went to Macy’s today to shop for clothes for holiday parties and holiday pictures, when I came across this:


Just in case you’re not familiar with the way US clothes are branded, “women’s apparel” is a nice way of saying “clothes for fat ladies.” It’s often also called “plus sizes.” First, I was slightly miffed that Macy’s decided to take a bit of the already dismally small plus size clothing section in order to display holiday gifts. Then I realized that the colorfully bedecked gift boxes were Godiva chocolate (behind the gold Godiva Boxes were Harry and David chocolates).

Well played, Macy’s, well played on so many levels. The chocolate display is near a street exit. It can also cater to fat ladies, who stereotypically love chocolate. On top of that, people might decide to pick up a box as a gift for either themselves, or the fat lady in their lives.

Too bad I promised not to buy any holiday gifts at stores that open especially on Thanksgiving Day.



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What’s up with gluten?

In an earlier post, I tried to make “a funny” about someone who might be on a theoretical crusade against gluten (starting with dollar pizza shops). As my friend Rob pointed out, I failed miserably, and insulted those with actual gluten sensitivity and/or celiac disease in the process.

However, the current gluten-free craze does bring up questions.

First of all, I am very happy that this craze exists, because it means there are more options for people who truly are negatively affected by gluten. Ten years ago, most people had never even heard of gluten, and people with celiac disease had to find specialty stores in order to eat a sandwich that wouldn’t make them sick. Now, many supermarkets have entire gluten-free sections.

Now that I got that out of the way, here is the reason for this post. I was scrolling along my Facebook feed, when I found that one of my favorite pages, I F*cking Love Science (IFLS), posted this:

“Unless you have been diagnosed with celiac disease, going gluten free will do *nothing* for your health.

Image via Skepchick.


While I completely agree with the sentiment of the sign, I do not believe in IFLS’ addition.

Sure, there are people who appear to be going gluten-free because they think it’s cool, or they’re hoping they’ll be able to shed those last few pounds. Sites like Natural News seem to contribute toward this. (Warning: do not trust Natural News; the reasons will take up their own post). The Jimmy Kimmel Show demonstrated that some people who are foregoing gluten don’t even know what it is.

This is dangerous for people whose health is actually affected by gluten. I’ve heard anecdotes about people whose gluten sensitivity isn’t taken seriously, because friends, relatives, or food service workers assume that the gluten sensitivity isn’t real.

Personally, I’ve been struggling with this. I’ve noticed that certain gastrointestinal symptoms appear to be correlated with gluten consumption. However, since I haven’t been diagnosed, I’m afraid to say I’m gluten-free, because I don’t want to seem like I’m just being trendy, or, worse, somehow reflect negatively on people who have it worse than I do.

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