Archive for the ‘politics’ Category

Hunger Challenge Day 4

Fresh Pasta

We’re heading into the 5th and final day of the Hunger Challenge here and we’re still under our $60 budget. Today’s dinner consisted of homemade pasta (1 cup flour, 1 egg) and cheater’s spaghetti sauce. We use cheater’s spaghetti sauce when tomatoes are out of season; start by sauteing onion, garlic, broccoli (stems and crown), bell pepper, and zucchini, a teaspoon of thyme, salt and pepper to taste. Add jar of sauce (I found a jar of organic sauce at Madison Market for $2.89) and simmer down. Add water. Simmer down. Repeat. As it reduces, it gains a complexity that the regular jar of sauce does not have on it’s own.

Homemade pasta is so cheap, coming it at under $0.35 for 4 servings. It requires a pasta maker though, as well as the time to produce it. It is so easy to grab packaged pasta at the store that I almost picked up a pack (we have enough left in our budget to afford it) but we had the flour and the egg on hand anyway.


When we are not taking this Challenge, we normally attempt to adhere to a diet that is predominantly vegetarian. It saves money and also can be healthier in many respects. Our diet this week can be compared to the vegetarian food pyramid, though we did have bacon and turkey sausage in small portions on a few days.

Overall, this challenge really helped us get back on the “bandwagon”, so to speak, for a healthier diet. One of the biggest fears I had going into this was the chance that I would get really cranky. When I don’t eat right, my blood sugar tanks, and I get a bit irrational. The term I have heard is “hangry”. Earlier I did write a letter to my stomach, but it was mostly in good humor. Usually if I don’t take a snack or eat a healthy breakfast, I will grab something at one of the numerous cafe’s on the UW campus or just head to a restaurant for lunch. I haven’t been able to do this all week and I didn’t have a single instance of being “hangry”.

Lastly, I have been browsing my favorite food sites looking for the very first thing I am going to make on Saturday after the challenge has ended. It’s currently a cross between Lemon Cake or grilled cheese sandwiches w/ a bowl of tomato soup.

Be sure to check out the week’s worth of blog roundups and other information related to the Hunger Challenge here.

Hunger Challenge Day 3

Hunger Challenge Stir Fry

We just wrapped up our third day of the Hunger Challenge with a fantastic stir fry. Here’s how I made it without the need for fancy preservative-packed specialty sauces:

  • 1/2 package firm tofu, drained
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1/4 cup soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 tablespoon safflower oil
  • 1/2 yellow onion, chopped
  • 1 jalapeno, chopped
  • 1 carrot, chopped
  • 1 crown broccoli w/ stem, cut into bite-size pieces (yes, including the stem)
  • 1/2 zucchini, chopped
  • 3 oz sugar snap peas
  • 1/2 red bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 cup brown rice

In a small container, mix soy sauce, sugar, and 1 clove garlic. Add cubed tofu, cover with lid, and let marinate for an hour, occasionally flipping the container.

In a medium size sauce pan, add rice and 2 cups water. Bring to a boil, lower to a simmer, and ignore for 20 minutes.

In a hot wok, add safflower oil and heat. Add onion and saute for one minute. Add carrot, garlic, and jalapeno. After a minute, add broccoli stems, followed by broccoli, sugar snap peas, and zucchini. Saute until vegetables are crisp-tender, about 3-4 minutes. Add tofu and marinade mixture, saute until vegetables are coated and tofu is heated through. Serve over hot rice.

Happily, I feel better about using a wider variety of vegetables today. For breakfast, we had an egg, a pear, and a slice of bread. Lunch was leftover red beans and rice (which has gained a nice zesty flavor from sitting in the fridge due to the hot Italian turkey sausage). For snack, I had an orange. Fruit, vegetables, carbs, and protein. I think we did fairly well today.

The last two breakfasts this week will consist of (rolled) oatmeal. Not very imaginative, but good for us. We have a bit of fruit for snacks. Lunch will be leftovers. Dinner either Thursday or Friday will be spaghetti with homemade pasta (using our last egg and a cup of flour), marinara sauce, and the rest of the vegetables we didn’t use in the stir fry (broccoli, yellow onion, garlic, zucchini, and red bell pepper).

Total spent so far is a whopping $54.50. That leaves us with $5.50. I was thinking I could pick up some cheese to use in a salad with the spaghetti. We have one small pear left, so maybe I can afford a wedge of blue cheese. We only have oil, salt, and pepper to make salad dressing with, so I’ll likely skip the dressing entirely (which is what I typically do anyway).

I am curious how much everyone typically spends on their weekly groceries. On a good week, we average about $100 (including alcohol) for our household of 2, though we occasionally feed friends. I tend to try out new recipes fairly often and we do love our cheese, so some weeks we blow the budget. My husband mentioned yesterday that he heard of a woman who can feed her family of 4 on $800 a year, I believe using coupons and very careful planning. That is $15 a week. *whistles*

Peter Steinbrueck NOT running for Seattle Mayor

After not an inconsiderable amount of pleading from his supporters and some serious self-reflection, former Seattle City Councilmember Peter Steunbreck has ended months of speculation by electing not to run for election as Seattle Mayor.

Announcing his decision in a Facebook group dedicated to supporting his now completely hypothetical run for office, Steinbrueck says that instead he has instead accepted a one year position as Loeb Fellow at Harvard University but encourages his supporters to continue “an open dialogue about our hopes and dreams for the future”.

Hunger Challenge Day 1

Lunch Day 1

Today started out earlier than normal when I woke up an hour before my alarm and immediately panicked over what we would have for lunch. I haven’t done all of our grocery shopping yet, and only made a loaf of no-knead bread yesterday in advance. Using what I had on hand, I put together a simple lentil soup (enough for 4 servings if we add rice & zucchini to the leftovers) in 30 minutes. Here’s the breakdown of today’s meals: (more…)

Hunger Challenge: Preparation



Reference: I am participating in United Way’s 5-day Hunger Challenge, starting Monday.

I’ve been writing down meal ideas w/ ingredient lists and today I scoped out prices at Madison Market. If we use leftovers for most lunches, we should be able to pull this off w/out resorting to Top Ramen. (more…)

Another Washingtonian goes to the other Washington

Former Washington state governor turned current commerce secretary Gary Locke isn’t the only mover and shaker from our fine state to get noticed by US President Barack Obama: Rajiv Shah, a director at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and a member of the Seattle Community Colleges Board of Trustees has been nominated by Mr. Obama to be the undersecretary of the US Department of Agriculture.

As reported in the PSBJ, Shah’s relevant experience includes managing agricultural development programs for the Gates Foundation. Besides serving on the community colleges board, he’s also a member of the board for the Seattle Public Library.

Hunger Challenge

Hunger Challenge

Could you feed yourself breakfast, lunch, and dinner for $7 a day? Many no- or low-income residents in Washington State do each day with the help of food stamp benefits. $7 per day is all that is allocated through this program.

The Hunger Challenge asks for a person’s commitment to eat on this limited budget for 5 days, starting April 20th, as a way to see how those less fortunate than us live. There are rules of course:

  • Eat breakfast, lunch and dinner spending only $7 per day.
  • Salt and pepper don’t count but all other seasonings, cooking oils, condiments, snacks, drinks, and everything else do.
  • Don’t use food you already own.
  • Don’t accept food from family, friends, coworkers and others. Not even the free samples from Costco!
  • Try to include fresh produce and healthy protein each day.
  • Keep track of expenses, food choices, etc. and share your experiences on United Way of King County’s blog.

I have signed my husband and myself up to take the Challenge, which to someone who loves to cook may very well prove to be a good lesson in cutting back. When I mentioned to friends and a few family members that we were considering it, the average response mostly centered on the limited menu and grocery stores that one is forced to adhere to. I am going to try to feed the two of us for 5 days on $60: breakfast, lunch, and dinner, using grocery stores located on Capitol Hill (avoiding WalMart, kthx) and eating as balanced a diet as we possibly can. I’ll post once for each of the five days sharing how the experience goes, starting on Monday.

To read more about the Hunger Challenge, including a budget for additional people, click here. If you decide to take the challenge, leave a comment letting me know so we can compare notes.

Your tax dollars at work

Photo courtesy of Randy Wick via our Flickr pool

Photo courtesy of Randy Wick via our Flickr pool

It’s been a busy week for Washington in Washington DC. On Monday, Senators Patty Murray and Maria Cantwell introduced S. 668, the Northwest Straits Marine Conservation Initiative Reauthorization Act of 2009. Now referred to the Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, this bill creates (or, more accurately, re-creates, since this is an effort to reauthorize the 1998 bill. In any case…) a 14 person Commission that includes a representative of 7 counties, two tribal representatives, someone appointed by the governor to represent the Puget Sound Partnership, and four civilians. The goals of the Commission would be to protect and restore marine habitats, populations, and water quality, and to promote these goals to the public and relevant organizations through education and research. [FULL TEXT]

Tuesday, March 24th was the 20th anniversary of the Exxon Valdez spill. To mark the occasion, Senator Cantwell cosponsored S. 684, the Oil Pollution Prevention and Response Act of 2009, with Senator John Kerry of MA. The bill would strengthen the Oil Pollution Act of 1990, and give the Coast Guard and NOAA additional powers, to deal with the rise in oil polution over the last 16 years– although the number of vessels actually spilling oil into waterways has declined, the volume of oil spilled has increased. This bill has also been referred to the Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation. [PRESS RELEASE]

Also on Tuesday, Sen. Cantwell introduced S. 672: A bill to amend the Natural Gas Act, the Natural Gas Policy Act of 1978, and the Federal Power Act “to modify provisions relating to enforcement and judicial review and to modify the procedures for proposing changes in natural gas rates.” S. 672 has been referred to the referred to the Committee on Energy and Natural Resources. The title of the bill is a little confusing, but basically S. 672 puts some muscle behind previous legislation, allowing for investigation of violations and enforcement of cease and desist orders. [TEXT] Referred to the Committee on Energy and Natural Resources.

Seattle Representative Jim McDermott introduced H.R. 1683, the Clean Environment and Stable Energy Market Act of 2009, in conjunction with 3 other representatives, on Tuesday. The resolution would revise IRS codes to require a permit for gas emissions, something like a cap and trade mechanism, if I’m reading it right. [TEXT] Referred to House Energy and Commerce Committee, and the Ways and Means Committee.

Not to be left out of the Tuesday fun, former governor Gary Locke was confirmed as Secretary of Commerce, which occasioned blessedly brief speaches from Senators Cantwell and Murray. [TEXT] The rapid confirmation of Locke only reinforces my belief that the man is so squeaky clean that you could… suddenly what I was going to write seems a trifle naughty. Never mind.

Finally, on Wednesday Congress passed the Omnibus Public Lands Management Act of 2009 (H.R.146), a huge win for Western states. This bill has been a year in the making, facing significant opposition from Republican lawmakers, who objected to the measure because it blocks energy development on public lands, and protects an additional two million acres of wilderness, and a thousand miles of river, including some of the most beautiful and pristine territory in America. Thanks to this act, some of that protected territory is now designated the “Pacific Northwest National Scenic Trail”: the trail is 1200 miles long and runs from the Continental Divide to the Pacific Coast, through the Rocky Mountains, Selkirk Mountains, Pasayten Wilderness, North Cascades, Olympic Mountains, and Wilderness Coast. It passes through three states, crosses three National Parks, and through seven National Forests. [TEXT] Hip, hip, hooray!

[EDITED: Photo caption updated with apologies to the photographer. Bad proofing on my part. Great photo on his.]

In Recognition: Penny Arcade

Introduced to and passed by the state senate yesterday was this funny little resolution that honors the contribution the two founders have made to the state, gamers, and children (through their Child’s Play organization). Penny Arcade organizes two significant events each year: PAX (Penny Arcade expo) and Child’s Play Charity Benefit Dinner/Auction. The Resolution is reprinted below:

By Senators Jarrett, McAuliffe, and Fraser
WHEREAS, The greater Seattle area is home to over 45 video game companies, making the
video game industry in Washington one of the largest in the nation; and
WHEREAS, Jerry Holkins, a comic writer, and Mike Krahulik, a cartoonist and artist, both
originally from Spokane, Washington, collaborated to create an online comic about video games
called Penny Arcade in the fall of 1998; and (more…)

Your tax dollars at work

President Obama announced today that AG Holder & the DoJ are making $2 billion from the ARRA available, specifically for state and local law enforcement and criminal justice. The funds will be allocated through the Edward Byrne Justice Assistance Grant (JAG) Program.

JAG Program funds can be used for a variety of efforts such as hiring law enforcement officers; supporting drug and gang task forces; funding crime prevention and domestic violence programs; and supporting courts, corrections, treatment, and justice information sharing initiatives.” (from the White House press release)

King County is eligible for $4,882,208, and the White House estimates that about $454,027 of that would go directly to County projects, and $2,701,067 for the city of Seattle. Seattle’s take is the largest single municipal amount, with Tacoma coming in 2nd at $1,394,464. The total for all Washington State counties and municipalities is $14,304,690; add in the funds allocated on the state level ($22,401,901) and Washington’s total rises to $36,706,591. LINK.

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