February 28, 2016

The Academy Awards: Should Acceptable be the New Exceptional?

I look forward to the Academy Awards all year long; I've seen all the nominated films, I read all the press, I watch Entertainment Tonight - I keep up with it all. It's 5:00p on Oscar night and I'll soon turn on the TV and watch all the Red Carpet hoo-hah until the Oscars begin.
But before I do that I just have to say I'm a little weary of all the grousing about how 'white' the Oscars are this year. I don't see that there's any 'snubbing' of people of color. I believe the Academy judges the films on  excellence in film making. Should they also judge by who wrote/produced/directed/acted in the film? Wouldn't that compromise the quality of the awards?
I believe in equality. I believe everyone has the same opportunity. I believe that people like Jada Pinkett Smith should do something to right what she thinks is wrong, instead of boycotting this celebration which will serve no real purpose. She has enough money to hire people of color to write great scripts and then to produce them and then to hire amazing black directors and actors. If there are no black people up for Oscars this year maybe it's because other performances/films outshone them.
It's not snubbing. It's rewarding excellence, regardless of color. That's equality.
Should 'acceptable' be the new 'exceptional' so we have more diversity?

February 26, 2016

The Good and The Bad of Writing

Let's get the bad out of the way: Writing is tough. Not that it isn't fun, but it's not an easy process and even if you finish a book or two, it's certainly not easy to get published. But if you love to write then you write. And if at first you don't succeed, try, try again.
Harry Bernstein

And here's the good: You can write whenever you want; you don't need any special equipment, you don't need a partner, you don't even have to get dressed. Just sit down at your computer, or whip out your favorite notebook, and start writing. All you need is motivation and inspiration.

Maybe you started writing in your youth, without success. If you gave up back then, but you still love writing, then get back to it. It doesn't matter how old you are.
If you need inspiration check out this post from one of my favorite writing sites: Live, Write, Thrive
about late-blooming writers (of which I'm proudly one).

February 11, 2016

Recipe: Savory Appetizer Cookies

Here's how I fake myself out when I want something sweet but I'm trying to stay away from sugar (which I'm addicted to): I make savory appetizer cookies. These are Cheddar Thumbprint cookies with Pepper Jelly. They're not exactly like eating an Oatmeal Chocolate Chunk Cookie (that's a sinful recipe for another time) but for some reason I look at these little beauties and my brain says, "Yay! A cookie!" so I'm satisfied, and I won't eat an entire tray of them, as I might if they were laden with gooey chocolate and filled with sugar.
Did I mention I'm addicted to sugar?
There's no sugar in the dough, but lots of butter and cheese (I never said they were good for you) so they're like shortbread, and they're delicious. And that little spicy bit of pepper jelly is just the right contrast.
Great to accompany a bowl of chili, or ham and bean soup, or just for a snack with an ice-cold beer.

Cheddar Thumbprints with Pepper Jelly
Makes 24 cookies

2 cups grated sharp cheddar cheese
6 tbs butter, softened
1 cup flour
¾ tsp house spice (salt, pepper, garlic powder)
Pinch of cayenne
1/3 cup pepper jelly

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Prepare baking sheet with parchment paper.

In a stand mixer, mix cheese, butter, flour, and spices until it looks like peas. Pinch together enough dough to form into one inch balls and place on a prepared pan, 1” apart. 

Bake 5 minutes. Remove from the oven and press an indentation into the dough, using the end of a wooden spoon. Fill with ¼ teaspoon jelly and return to oven; bake additional 10 minutes, or until tops are lightly browned. 
Remove to wire rack and cool completely.